Professor calls clear N95 masks an ‘amazing accomplishment’

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - An A-State professor wants to clear up any doubts about a new clear, reusable N-95 respirator mask made by the Ford Motor Company.

The mask has been called a “game-changer” because it helps those wearing it communicate better while also protecting them from COVID-19.

Dr. Sarah Scott, an assistant professor of communication studies at Arkansas State University, says it is an amazing accomplishment.

She says accessibility is an issue across the board and Ford’s clear N-95 mask will help with that.

“For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, it’s been exponentially more difficult because you can’t even tell if someone is speaking to you if you’re wearing a mask that covers your face,” Scott said.

She said trying to find a mask at the start of the pandemic was difficult within itself and the challenge increased even more for those who are deaf or have other communication disorders.

That’s when several started creating masks with a clear shield, but those also posed problems.

“First of all, they fog up very quickly and it’s hard to keep them from not fogging up as you’re talking, which permits you from being able to see, which is the point of the clear shield,” Scott said.

When the CDC recommended people wear thicker cloth masks, masks with filters, or medical masks, those clear masks no longer served their real purpose.

Scott says the new masks by Ford are great especially since accessibility is a big topic in today’s world.

“You lose human connection when you’re behind a cloth mask,” Scott said. “Being able to see facial expressions, especially with our medical providers, when they are providing us life-saving information to be able to see their face, to see their communication in a clear way, I think is really an important thing for all people but especially for those who are deaf and hard of hearing or have other communication disorders.”

She says tools like these provide basic accommodations and when communication isn’t available for all of us, we all suffer.

As far as when those clear N95 masks will be released, Ford says they are patent pending and should be available this spring.

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