TKNIKA designs environmental-friendly transparent masks for deaf people

TKNIKA designs environmental-friendly transparent masks that allow deaf people the lip-reading

María José Barriola, Director of the Biosciences and Sustainability Area of TKNIKA, and Arantxa Zamora, Researcher of the Biosciences and Sustainability Area of TKNIKA, have manufactured transparent protective masks to allow deaf persons to lip read, while maintaining the same levels of protection against the virus.

The reason to work on the design of a transparent mask for people with hearing problems is of a vital importance for them since they are able to see the face of their interlocutors in communicative situations. Deaf persons and persons with hearing difficulties, like elderly people, largely rely on lip reading to communicate effectively. In other words, they will not be able to have a normal conversation if they are not able to see the face of each other.

The problem is that Governments are encouraging citizens to wear masks and most conventional protective masks are completely opaque. Opaque masks do not allow a speaker to see the face of their interlocutor and, consequently, do not allow people with hearing issues to communicate effectively.

Apart of being transparent and allowing lip-reading, the inclusive protective mask is also designed from an environmentally friendly perspective, as they are composed by sustainable and biodegradable materials.

Other key feature considered in the design and fabrication of the masks has been comfort. TKNIKA wanted this new type of inclusive mask to be as comfortable as the opaque ones and to allow users to breath without restrictions, while maintaining the same safety levels.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Viceministry of Vocational Education and Training, Department of Education, Basque Government asked TKNIKA to design and manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for sanitary workers.

When the crisis started, the whole country faced a worrying shortage of PPE. TKNIKA reacted fast and, together with a network of 66 Basque VET centres created to address the shortage of PPE in hospitals, started manufacturing thousands of masks and protective shields.

In the beginning, the aim of manufacturing PPE was to provide the hospitals with them. TKNIKA and the network of Basque VET centres have been working during the last two months in the production of this material. Now, as the creation of the transparent mask has become evident, TKNIKA is working in inclusiveness and innovating to make the world a better place.

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