A deaf mum has been swamped with hundreds of orders after designing face masks with a window allowing her to lip read.
Justine Bate, 42, made the masks – featuring a plastic window over the mouth – to help herself and her daughter, Teona, 10, who is also deaf.
The graphic designer was worried Teona, 10 would not be able to socialise with friends back at school if she cannot see their mouth.
Her husband and carer Carl Bate, 50, also wears one and since debuting them on social media, she has been inundated with orders from care homes.
Other deaf people in their community have also placed orders for the masks she makes on her sewing machine in her loft.
They sold 42 yesterday (27 May) morning for £5.99 each including postage and packaging.
Mr Bate, from Manchester, said: “We can’t make them quickly enough for what people need.
“From the messages we are getting a lot of people from care homes – people who have got dementia and children who have got certain types of autism where they are actually scared of people with this full face mask on.
“It is easier as they do not get scared.
“A lot of messages are from people with carers that work with care homes that want these masks where they can actually see the lips so it is not scary.
“They look a bit different but it is the interests of the patient that is important. You can look stupid but as long as your patient is feeling calm it is a benefit for that person.
“It was not to do with making money it was to do with doing something for our daughter for making her life easier.
“It’s been so overwhelming. She’s a bit apprehensive but she’s been honest with people that it’s not PPE quality as there is no filter.
“Even people from the care homes said they are not bothered because of the ability to communicate with disabled people in an easier way.
“It’s quite overwhelming but she’s loving it. The deaf community can be quite a hard place to socialise. It does bring a lot of deaf people together.
“The amount of people who have come up to her and asked for these masks is quite overwhelming.
“She’s loving the fact that she’s helping others make a better quality of life in this situation.”
Mrs Bate was deaf since birth and her parents were also deaf. She knows sign language but only staring learning that around age 16.
Mr Bate said ‘she’s always been someone who can put her hands to something’ and that they tried different ways of making the masks but now they have it ‘perfect.’
“At first it was too thick,” he said. “She needed something that is easily going to be able to stitch because the plastic is stitched into the fabric.
“The plastic it stitched into the fabric and it needed to be something that’s not going to be too thick that it’s not going to blur the lips when lip reading with condensation.
“Somebody mentioned that if you rub household soap on it then rub it off with a dry cloth it doesn’t condensate.
“A few people have messaged asking if we are going to put a filter in but that’s impossible with the clear plastic – you are defeating the object of the plastic.”
He said they are still working on getting into a rhythm to speed up production and ‘there were a lot of arguments going on in the house’ when they started.
“It wasn’t easy. I had my ways of doing it and she’s got her way – but her way was the best way.”
He estimated it took around four days of trial and error, trying different styles, before perfecting the art with ‘three or four different designs put into one.’
The masks are designed for adults and can be adjusted with the elasticated band, but they do not yet make children’s masks.
Mrs Bates shared the masks on Facebook and the post received more than 12,000 shared.