TAMPA, Fla. -- From masks to social distancing, to the fear of being around people, many of us can agree, life in a pandemic can be tough.

“I think it’s been extremely difficult for folks,” said Devon Weist, USF Hearing Clinic Director.

What You Need To Know

  • USF hearing clinic director created masks for hearing impaired

  • Masks have built in window to help deaf read lips of others

  • Leftover masks to be donated to Hillsborough Schools Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

  • Donations are welcome

Weist says adding hearing loss to the mix can make a tough situation even worse.

“You can imagine for patients who have hearing difficulties, trying to go out and even talk to cashiers or even go to the pharmacy and pick up their medication and ask questions, there’s just an extra layer that is blocking people’s speech, so it makes it extremely difficult,” said Weist.

But, after some research, Weist found a way to make it a little easier.

She brought the idea to her colleagues who took the idea and ran with it.

“I dusted off my sewing machine and got the materials and here they are!” said Pat Carr, clinical instructor at the USF Hearing Clinic.

The masks are made with a built in window, offering not only safety, but security for the hard of hearing, too.

“It allows the listener to be able to see our facial expressions, to see our mouths, to help them with communicating because our visual skills are so important for when we are communicating with one another,” said Carr.

“It helps us know if someone is upset about something, if someone is exciting about something, if someone is concerned,” said Weist.

They hope the masks bring comfort to their patients during an uncomfortable time.

“The interactions are just so much better even though they may have difficulty with the hearing end of it, they can use those facial cues to add to what they’re feeling,” said Carr.

Feeling a bit more at ease. That can be heard loud and clear.

Right now, Carr is making all the masks on her own. 

All donations are welcome, and any leftover masks will be donated to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Hillsborough County Schools.