New face masks designed to help deaf community

An Edinburgh company is making the first face masks for the deaf community which enable sight of mouth for lip-reading.

Breathe Easy, created by Gavin McAdam, has been inundated with orders for the products after trialling the prototypes in early April.

The masks include a plastic insert which allow for lip-reading.

The company is creating around 200 masks a day and 5,000 have already been distributed free to those in need. Plans are already in place to increase production.

Coronavirus – Wed May 20, 2020
Gavin McAdam wears one of the face masks designed by his Edinburgh pop-up company (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr McAdam took over the rental of a tailoring workshop in Newington and now has a staff of seven, including three full-time seamstresses to cope with demand.

Working with Deaf Action Scotland, National Deaf Children’s Society (Scotland), Forth Valley Sensory Centre and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust, Breathe Easy has been supplying the organisations with the masks that allow sight of the mouth.

Mr McAdam said the initial plan was to manufacture quality fabric masks to front-line workers, those at risk, vulnerable groups and anyone concerned for friends or family.

Coronavirus – Wed May 20, 2020
Atanaska Slavova makes face masks at Breathe Easy (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said: “While not medical grade, the masks are ideal for casual use and provide a barrier which brings a real source of comfort for many people worried about contracting coronavirus while out in public.

“I was keen to produce something to help the deaf community and the designs have been well received.

“The thicker material works well for these masks as it is more structured and is better for holding the plastic in place.

“The masks are all washable and will be as good in six months’ time as they are on day one. We also have a variety of designs to suit all tastes.”

Coronavirus – Wed May 20, 2020
Some of the customised face masks created by the company (Jane Barlow/PA)

The company is creating customised and branded masks, with the logos of football teams, companies and charities.

Other charities such as Steps to Hope, Visualise Scotland and Positive Pathways have also had masks donated.

Mr McAdam added: “I feel really quite excited about this project and am getting a lot out of trying to do good for people in these worrying times.

“It is amazing how quickly things have progressed from a wee idea to where we are now.

“We just ask for donations for the masks destined for front-line, care sector workers and vulnerable groups and every penny we get goes to the production of more masks to help others and that is why we’re all enthused by this.

“Bliss Dancewear in Corstorphine is applying our branded logos and we have a couple of local taxi drivers delivering the masks for free so there is a real feeling of being in this together and doing what we can to help.”

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