Gainesville occupational therapist makes deaf-friendly face masks

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- Face masks are becoming part of the “new normal,” and they're making it difficult for the hard of hearing to communicate. Not only do masks muffle sounds, but they make it impossible to read lips.

Yvonne Stride, an occupational therapist here in Gainesville works with speech therapists and autistic children. She says she was already making regular masks and decided that she would modify her design, based on her experience at work.

“I was giving an assessment and one of the items in the assessment was to list a social smile, you know you’re just supposed to smile and wait to see if the child smiles back at you, and obviously wearing a mask that is covering my mouth it made that impossible," said Yvonne Stride.

That’s when she decided to unite her interests and her skills…

“Before I started making masks, I was a quilter, and I’m just happy I was able to bring both of my passions together to be able to bring something to the community that people can, you know, be appreciative of and I’m just happy I was able to come up with something useful.”

And the feedback has been nothing but positive.

“The kids love it, I’m able to get more social interaction more social engagement from them by just wearing it. The speech therapists that have used them, you know for some of the children especially if they’re working on articulation, they have to really be able to see the mouth and it just makes their job possible.”

Stride makes the masks with clear vinyl, quilt fabric, and t-shirt yarn. She sells each mask for $10 +shipping. If you would like to order a Stride Mask, you can email her at to place your order.