Grand Ledge woman makes “communicator masks” for others


GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WLNS)– Caregivers and medical staff rely on face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. But some patients rely on lip reading to communicate, and can’t do that with a traditional mask.

Michiganders are now required to wear masks or face coverings in public, enclosed indoor spaces. Many have volunteered to make masks for others during the stay home order, including Jan McCubbin of Grand Ledge.

Recently she was inspired by her daughter, who is deaf and expecting her first child soon, to think of alternatives. Her daughter’s husband will not be allowed to join his wife in labor and delivery at the hospital due to enhanced restrictions as a result of COVID-19.

“When they said that he wouldn’t be able to go into the labor and delivery with her in the hospital, I started thinking how much she depends on lip reading,” McCubbin says. “And, you know, if she doesn’t have a support person it’s going to be even harder for her to manage.”

McCubbin realized there was a need for a solution in the deaf community.

“I’ve talked to people, deaf people or medical personnel, who say it just doesn’t work if the other person has a mask on. They have to lift up their mask to talk to them, so they can understand. So why even have a mask on then?”

After doing some research, she found a pattern for a mask she could make at home with a clear window for the mouth. McCubbin has since made dozens of masks for others and has a waitlist with hundreds of orders. She has even asked her friends to help make masks in the last few days.

McCubbin says the “communicator mask” can help anyone, not just people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“I’ve heard from people who take care of patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and they’re confused why everyone is wearing a mask,” she says. “And when they can’t see the smile or sometimes they’re hard of hearing in older age, they can’t read the lips anymore. It adds to their anxiety and confusion.”

As long as there is a need, McCubbins says she’s happy to help.

If you’d like to order a communicator mask, you can find a link to her website in our Seen on 6 section.

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