City pledges to distribute 100,000 clear plastic face masks to help hearing impaired

young man with transparent Medical face mask, to help hearing imperimeant or deaf people to understand lipreading during coronavirus or covid-19 outbreak.
Photo via Getty Images

The city will distribute thousands of clear face masks in order to help deaf New Yorkers and those hard of hearing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday. 

Over 100,000 clear plastic face masks will be distributed across the city, Mayor de Blasio said, adding that about 25,000 of those masks are being donated by women’s clothing brand UNIQLO.

A City Hall spokesperson later clarified that 5,000 masks will be given to 17 organizations across the city that work with the hearing impaired and that 95,000 will be given to district 75 students who are either deaf, hard of hearing or require speech or psychological therapy along with their teachers. District 75 refers to the city’s collection of special education schools. 

“We have learned over the month that there is literally no tool more important than having that face mask,” de Blasio said. “ But face masks have caused a challenge for some New Yorkers.” Since face mask cover the lower half of the face, some hearing-impaired New Yorkers who use read lips and facial expressions have found it harder to communicate during the pandemic, de Blasio added. 

The city is also preparing to ship out personal protective equipment donations from a handful of other companies and nonprofits including 71,000 bottles of hand sanitizer from Perrigo, 200,000 disposable face masks from the Huamin Foundation, 880,000 KN95 masks from Emigrant Bank, 100,000 face masks from Trinity Church and 50,000 KN95 respirators for the city’s test and trace corp. From Committee of 100.