Costume designer makes masks with windows so people can read lips

Emerald Pellot

Face masks can make connecting with others difficult. They obstruct nearly half the face making it impossible to intuit certain emotions and body language. But for those who rely on reading lips, like Michael Conley who has a condition called sound discrimination, it can mean an end of public communication altogether.

That’s where San Diego Opera costume designer Ingrid Helton comes in. Helton launched a business to create clear windowed masks so people can stay safe and read lips. But according to the Associated Press, at least half a dozen startups are producing similar masks. Clearly, there’s a demand for them.

It’s not just the 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing that needs the upgraded masks. Teachers want their ESL students to watch native speakers enunciate words, while hospitals and businesses want clients to see their workers smile.

“The issue for me is that I can hear sounds, but I can’t understand them. It’s called sound discrimination,” Conley told the Associated Press. “And so what I do is, I read lips. I grew up reading lips my whole life. And without seeing people’s facial expressions or reading lips, I can’t understand what they’re saying.”

Conley has since developed anxieties about completing tasks he could easily do before like going to the pharmacy or grocery store. Fortunately, he was introduced to Helton’s masks by his coworker, Chris LaZich, at the Fleet Museum.

LaZich essentially requested the masks on Conley’s behalf from Helton. The costume designer then created several prototypes to show her and from there Helton’s company Happy Laugh Masks began.

“I never asked for anybody to help me and there they went out on their own to do this. And it’s really great. It’s kind of one of the things that’s coming out of pandemics. People are being very, very supportive and helpful with each other,” Conley said.

If you liked this story, meet the style influencer changing fashion for people with disabilities.

More from In The Know:

Teen share “unwritten rules” his mom makes him follow as a young Black man

These pillows featuring Black activists celebrate resilience and resistance

7 queer-led brands you should be shopping

“Incredible” 10-year-old drummer rages against machine for Black Lives Matter

The post Costume designer makes masks with windows so people can read lips appeared first on In The Know.

More From

  • A 21-year-old is using TikTok to call out the 'twisted' world of college Greek life

    JJ Jordan, a 21-year-old who attends Florida State University, posted the personal confession on TikTok, where it’s since been viewed more than 3.7 million times.In her clip, Jordan calls out the “twisted and screwed up world” of Greek life that she says she’s “stayed quiet” about for years.Jordan explains that she joined FSU’s Kappa Delta chapter in the fall of 2017, after which she began experiencing “extreme displays of elitism, censorship and slut-shaming” .She adds that she ultimately left the sorority the following spring, although not entirely by her own choice.the TikToker was brought before a sorority “standards” meeting, during which one of her sisters claimed she’d seen Jordan passed out naked inside a fraternity house.Jordan completely denies that claim, according to BuzzFeed News.she told the outlet that if her sisters actually believed she’d passed out in a frat house, they never offered her any support or help whatsoever.Jordan was then placed on probation by the sorority’s national chapter and ultimately decided to leave Greek life completely.“I speak from a huge place of privilege. And if I was targeted and victimized in this way, that is just the tip of the iceberg for other queer women, or for women of color”

  • Man discovers creepy abandoned apartment in his attic

    A Reddit user, who goes by CatchingWindows, .posted several photos of the “creepy,” decaying apartment, which looks like it’s straight out of a horror film.“There’s a house in my attic…” CathingWindows captioned the original post, which has more than 18,000 upvotes in the r/interestingasf*** subreddit.Inside the secret apartment upstairs, CatchingWindows said he found a bunch of junk: an old cabinet, a tire, a hat, a toilet and a sink.Apparently, CatchingWindows’ current home used to be a church, and before that, it was “a store where the owners lived upstairs”.Fellow Reddit users are understandably creeped out by the abandoned attic apartment.“Does a clown live there by the name of penny wise?” one person joked.Some people pointed out that the apartment in the attic even has its own attic, which could be full of more chilling treasures

  • Body-positive influencer exposes bloggers’ deceiving tricks to achieve the “perfect” photo

    What you see on Instagram isn’t always reality — and this influencer has proof

  • Singer says he makes 'way more' than $75,000 per TikTok: 'Can't hate'

    Derulo says the rumors are false — he's actually making way more money.