Madison, Wis. — While the use of traditional face masks is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, they can pose some unique challenges for health care providers who work with patients that are deaf, hard of hearing, or who need to read lips or see visual cues to better understand what others are saying.
UW Health recently partnered with the UW-Madison College of Engineering to help design and test prototypes of clear face masks that not only make communication easier but that also provide a greater sense of human connection.
The masks are currently being tested by a limited number of UW Health providers, including speech and language pathologists and sign language interpreters.
“As a speech therapist, I am always modeling sounds and words for my patients, so it’s critically important that they’re able to see my mouth during therapy sessions,” said Meghan Welsh, UW Health speech therapist. “These masks are also invaluable to building good rapport, especially with our younger patients and their families, because they can see our smile and know how proud we are of the progress they’re making.”
The clear masks are just the latest partnership between UW Health and UW Engineering to come up with innovative solutions to some of the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These masks are currently being tested by and for a limited number of providers and patient populations at this time.
We are currently looking for a manufacturer to develop the Badger Shield face mask. If you are interested in learning more about these masks or to be informed when more information is available, please fill out this interest form.