Titusville woman helping hearing impaired community by making clear face masks

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Since the outbreak of COVID-19 wearing a face covering has pretty much become the new normal -- strongly encouraged to avoid the spread of the virus. But one group seems to be having difficulties when it comes to communicating while wearing face coverings.

“My mom she’d worn her mask over her mouth and I’m like, ‘Just please take off your mask because I can’t understand a word she’s saying,’” Jocelyn Dagenais, said.

The 11-year-old was born with a loss of hearing and communicates mostly by reading lips.

“When you cover up someone’s mouth and somebody relies on that visual to be able to understand what someone is saying, you take that away and it’s very difficult to follow a conversation,” Jocelyn’s mom,Katie Mitzner, said.

A few weeks ago, Mitzner saw a story on Facebook about clear masks that had been made in Kentucky. She says she shared the story on her Facebook page and soon after a friend connected Mitzner with Judy Azwell.

"I already had a pattern for the fabric masks so I just kind of started playing around with it, cut out a hole," Azwell, who lives in Titusville said. "I used some clear vinyl and made those for her and took them to her."

Azwell has been making fabric face masks for sale to help her financial situation. She was laid off in late March by her employer. She sells them at $5 each and also donates the masks to those who can’t afford to pay.

"I've actually offered to make some for the Orange County Public school clinic so that they can get those out," Azwell said.

For Jocelyn, the difference in the clear face masks has been significant.

"It's really helped me because my mom, she can wear her mask over her mouth and her nose and I can understand every single word she's saying," the 11-year-old said.

Her mom hopes their story serves as a way to get more people to make clear fabric masks for the hearing impaired community.

"I think it's important that we don't forget all of the different populations out there and the deaf and hard of hearing population needs that visual, they need to be able to read lips," Mitzner said. "not only do we have children who are deaf and hard of hearing, but we have seniors who may have a hearing loss."

Judy says anyone interested in a see through face mask can request one from her via her Facebook page.

“I think it’s really an underserved community in that respect and I think people are either charging so much for them or they’re on backorder and they can’t get them just like the medical mask so I’m more than willing to make them.”

You can reach out to Judy via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/judy.m.walters.3

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