My name is Anissa, I am 31 years old and in early April 2020 during the lockdown, I went to the pharmacy to buy a medicine. I gave the prescription to the pharmacist and backed away to respect the floor marking (1m).
There were 3 employees. All 3 were wearing surgical masks. At one point, the pharmacist asked me a question, unfortunately I could not read her lips (I have a bilateral average deafness). So I explained to him that I am deaf and that I usually read lips but that with the masks I could not. She made the effort to speak louder, which I greatly appreciated.
This was followed by an exchange (minimal but difficult because I did not understand the first time). I wanted to ask questions but I knew I was not going to hear well and I did not want to put myself in an uncomfortable situation. Especially since I was a little stressed at the thought of her asking me questions. Fortunately for me, that was not the case.
I left with my medicine and a little rung from this (unpleasant) adventure. This kind of situation leads to stress, withdrawal and gradually social exclusion.
You should know that there are different degrees of deafness: mild, medium, severe and deep. There are also two types of deafness: perception or transmission deafness.
Depending on the degree of deafness, you hear the voice but you don’t understand the message, it’s distorted...as if you hear a foreign language. So for some people, lip reading is an important way to support understanding. And for people with severe/deep deafness and whose mode of communication is Sign Language, the mask prevents seeing the facial expression that is important to give meaning to the discourse.
After weeks and weeks of intense research, doubts, thousands of tests, meetings, disappointments, joys, we finally made the Inclusive Mask® with a visible anti-fogging part at the level of the mouth that allows to easily read on the lips and to see the expression of the face of the wearer.
This mask was originally designed for people who would rely on lip reading but as we went along, we realized that this mask meets a need beyond deafness such as seeing a smile, the reassuring side of seeing a face or simply keeping the social bond.
This type of mask will also benefit early childhood professionals, staff in contact with customers (restaurateurs, shopping centers, ...), .... Let us add that this mask will allow to see an expression of face indispensable to human/ social relations because a smile can heal hearts. Finally, it makes the identification of the wearer possible thanks to the transparent tape.
A fundraiser was set up on Gofundme.
The funds raised helped finance the prototype, the purchase of raw materials, the creation of the company, the first production and the many ancillary costs that a major project can have.
Initially €5,000 was estimated to start the project on a local scale only but given the growing demand every day, we increased the prize pool to €10,000. And for our greatest joy, we have collected exactly €18,563 in two months of campaign! Our masks have been tested by the Directorate General of Armament and the results are consistent with the interdepartmental note of 29 March 2020.
I remember saying at the very beginning of the project: «if however the objective of the 5000€ is not achieved, or if the project does not succeed for X or Y reason, I undertake to reimburse each donor».
Two and a half months later, the production is launched!