A deaf mum has been inundated with orders after designing face masks with a clear window allowing people to lip read.
Justine Bate, 42, from Manchester, originally made the masks, which feature a plastic window over the mouth, to help herself and her daughter, Teona, 10, who is also deaf.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 mouths.
Since sharing the masks on social media, she has been inundated with orders from care homes and other deaf people in the community.
The masks, which Mrs Bate makes on a sewing machine in her loft, cost £5.99 each including postage and packaging.
Commenting on the “overwhelming” response the family have received since debuting the design on Facebook, Justine’s husband Carl Bate, 50, said: “We can't make them quickly enough for what people need.”
He said they have also had enquiries from carers of those with dementia and children who have certain types of autism which means they can feel scared of people wearing full face masks.
“They can actually see the lips so it is not scary,” he explains.
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“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.”
Mrs Bate, who has been deaf since birth, tried several different designs for the masks before perfecting them.
“At first it was too thick,” Mr Bate explains. “She needed something that is easily going to be able to stitch because the plastic is stitched into the fabric.
The design also needed to make sure it wouldn’t blur with condensation, stopping people from being able to lip read.
The family say they have also been asked if they are able to include a filter in the design, but Mr Bate says that would be impossible as it would defeat the object of the plastic.
And they have been honest with people that the masks aren’t not PPE quality because of the lack of a filter.
But that doesn’t seem to have stopped the orders coming in and the family are now working on getting into a rhythm to speed up production.
Read more: Are face masks a barrier to the coronavirus?
Mr Bate says making the masks was never about money, but trying to make their daughter’s life easier.
“It’s quite overwhelming but she’s loving it,” he says. “The deaf community can be quite a hard place to socialise. It does bring a lot of deaf people together.
“She’s loving the fact that she's helping others make a better quality of life in this situation,” he added of his wife.
The masks are designed for adults and can be adjusted with the elasticated band, but they do not yet make children's masks.
Additional reporting SWNS.