This doctor hands out clear masks for free to help her hearing-impaired patients

May 11, 2020, 7:42 AM
Dr. Sheri Mello handed out the clear masks to hearing-impaired patients.
Credit:	Courtesy Dr. Sheri...
Dr. Sheri Mello handed out the clear masks to hearing-impaired patients. Credit: Courtesy Dr. Sheri Mello

    (CNN) — The need to wear facemasks in public during the coronavirus pandemic established a new normal for people around the world. But it also created a new challenge for the hearing impaired, so she started handing out clear masks.

During curbside treatments, Dr. Sheri Mello, an audiologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, discovered that her patients were really struggling to hear because of street noise and the face coverings of her staff.

“The covered masks cut down the volume level by 10 decibels,” Mello told CNN. “And that’s a lot. You’re cutting a quarter of the volume.”

After seeing a pattern for a face covering with a clear portion around the mouth posted in a nationwide Facebook group, Mello reached out to her clientele at Raleigh Hearing and Tinnitus Center and asked if anybody knew how to sew.



“I got 10 responses from the email blast and in just a few days I got dropped off about 30 masks,” she said. “I was so impressed with that.”

The wife of one of her longtime patients is a nurse who had been furloughed and was the first person to drop off some of the clear masks.

“She didn’t want any money,” Mello said. “Everybody just donated these masks.”

Grocery stores and other public places were already difficult for the hearing impaired because of the amount of background noise, Mello said. Once you add face coverings, it makes communication feel impossible.

“Just for anybody, not just the hearing impaired, you have to see emotion, you have to see facial expressions,” she said. “And with these covered masks, it kind of takes away all of that facial expression that comes with communicating.”

After handing them out for free, a lot of Mello’s patients are now using the masks with loved ones. The loved one wears the clear mask so the patient can read the lips.

Doug Dieter, one of Mello’s patients with a hearing impairment, told CNN affiliate WRAL it can be difficult to relate to hearing loss.

“You don’t realize the struggles sometimes that somebody might have in understanding what you’re saying,” he said.

Mello said her patients wished news reporters would wear the clear masks as well, because television is especially difficult for the hearing impaired, even with hearing aids. A first-grade teacher recently reached out to get the pattern too, expressing her struggles with teaching young children how to read or helping them learn English as a second language.

After so much positive feedback from her patients, she’s already put out another call to her helpers to get more masks made.

“As a community, we’re all working together,” she said.

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Wednesday two new cases of avian influenza....
Mark Jones

Two new cases of avian influenza announced Wednesday

Two new cases of avian influenza have been confirmed by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The new cases are in Iron and Utah counties.
1 day ago
A suspect is in custody Wednesday evening after University of Utah Police say two hidden cameras we...
Mark Jones

Hidden cameras found in restrooms in U of U Student Life Center, suspect in custody

University of Utah Police say a suspect has been arrested after two hidden cameras were found inside two different restrooms inside the Student Life Center.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City Police took a 44-year-old man into custody on Wednesday in connection to the burglar...
Mark Jones

SLC Police arrest man for burglarizing two law offices

Salt Lake City Police say a 44-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection to burglarizing two downtown law offices last week.
1 day ago
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants his old job back. ...
Mark Jones

Rocky Anderson announces bid to run for SLC mayor in 2023

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Wednesday that he is seeking reelection to get his old job back.
1 day ago
Orem auto-pedestrian collision...
Mark Jones

Two people hurt in auto-pedestrian collision in Orem

Orem police are investigating an auto-pedestrian collision that sent two people to the hospital Wednesday afternoon.
1 day ago
Fatal car crash...
Waverly Golden

Salt Lake City Police investigate deadly auto-pedestrian collision

SLC 9-1-1 received information about a deadly auto-pedestrian collision involving a Nissan pick-up Wednesday afternoon, according to Salt Lake City Police Department.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
This doctor hands out clear masks for free to help her hearing-impaired patients