As uncomfortable as face masks feel when it’s hellishly hot and humid, science has confirmed that they’re one of our best allies in slowing the spread of COVID-19. That necessity has made 2020 the year without (public) smiles so far, but several Etsy retailers have started to sell see-through masks to combat the expressionless society we now live in. Yes, it’s a win for human connection—but the mask trend proves especially meaningful for people with disabilities.
On a basic human-to-human level, facial expressions communicate in ways that we can’t necessarily achieve with words alone. As body-language expert Patti Wood says, the mouth is widely considered the “window to the truth.” For example: The slightest grimace or half-smile can reveal someone’s not entirely into what you’re saying, and people tend to touch their lips more when telling a lie. Seeing someone’s mouth through a clear panel of plastic lets able-bodied people go deeper into the conversation.
For the deaf community, this need is even more vital because seeing someone’s lips move can be the difference between understanding what someone’s saying—and being left in the dark. As ClearMask—one of the foremost producers of this new-age product—writes on its website: “Miscommunication is a leading cause of medical errors and can be prevented. When traditional masks are worn, miscommunication may increase with people who heavily rely on visual communication, such as deaf and hard of hearing individuals, children, and older adults. For many, missing critical visual cues can be the difference between complete understanding and a preventable ER visit.” Now—as always—everyone should be heard and understood when they seek medical attention.
If you want to reintroduce nonverbal cues back into your everyday quarantine life—whether you’re going to the grocery store, the doctor, or to a restaurant—here are some of the best see-through face masks for open, inclusive interactions.
See-through face masks to keep nonverbal communication alive during COVID-19
1. ClearMask, $67 for 24 masks
Shop now: ClearMask, $67 for 24 masks
This ultra-breathable see-through face mask comes with a strip of foam that goes across your chin and nose for maximum comfort, making it a wonderful choice for frontline workers, or anyone who’s spending hours at a time behind the screen of a mask. Because ClearMask only does bulk orders, you could buy one pack and parcel them off to your friends, family members, or coworkers who will likely be very pleased to show the world their mouths once more.
Shop now: LilyParis Shop Anti-fog 10 Percent Clear Transparent Mask, $22
Shop now: Safesew Face Mask With Clear Window, $22
I don’t know about you, but I get over my masks’ patterns quickly. Safesew cuts her masks from many different cloths so you can buy a few to swap out as the weak wears on and your favorite masks land in the dirty-laundry pile.