Frequently Asked Questions

We cover a variety of topics on this page. 

For convenience, we've broken up the extensive list into three sections:

  1. Mask it up: general inquiries about masks & reasons for clear ones.

  2. Mask care: sanitary and specific products for clear masks.

  3. + and more: a variety of additional answers to thoughts you may have. 

+ Mask it up

Why should I wear a mask or face covering?


As you may very well know, we're living in a pandemic that has sickened millions and killed hundreds of thousands globally. Face masks are scientifically proven to be one of the strongest ways in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. They help people stop from spreading or contracting the virus.




How are current face masks inaccessible?


Well, most face masks—like the standard disposable surgical masks, DIY fabric face coverings, bandanas, or scarves—fully cover the mouth. These common mask styles completely block any chance for lip-reading, facial cues, or facial expressions. Wearing a fully-covered mask makes communication inaccessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also make it more difficult for older people to communicate easily, a group greatly impacted by the pandemic.




Who am I helping by wearing an accessible mask?


You're helping the deaf and hard of hearing population. That's more than 466 million people globally, or 5% of the world. And about 15% of American adults who reported issues with their hearing. It's more than "seeing someone's smile," wearing an accessible mask ensures access to daily communication for a large part of the world as we live with the pandemic.




What's an "accessible" face mask?


An "accessible" mask is a face covering that has a clear, transparent, see-through window where others can see more of the wearer's face and mouth for easy communication. There are also emerging specialty face shields with necessary neck protection, such as, the Humanity Shield. Flip through our curated list of masks and get one for yourself!




Who should be wearing a clear mask? Why should I?


Anyone communicating with someone who has a hearing loss should wear a clear mask. You'd be helping make communication easier and less stressful for deaf and hard of hearing people. Since hearing loss isn't a visible disability, everyone should try to wear a clear mask when around others. It's also setting a precedent to make accessibility the norm.




Where, and when, should I wear a clear mask?


Wherever and whenever you're supposed to be wearing a face mask, especially when you're out and about around other people outside of your home or quarantine pod. (Like you don't need to when on that solitary morning run!)




Sheesh... I have a really cool mask, though. Now I need another?!


You can still wear that unique mask! Wear it for the Instagram, make that grand entrance with it on. Then, it would be super helpful if you could swap it out and wear an accessible one when you're going to be communicating with others. But seriously look at some of the cool transparent masks available, like the bright patterns from Rebirth Garments and the sleek minimal design from Sachika. We also understand money can be tight—so we selected plenty of budget-friendly options for grabbing an accessible mask you can wear multiple times!





+ Mask care

How should I take care of my clear mask? How do I ensure it's COVID-19 free?


Great questions! Taking good care of your clear masks isn't all that much different than taking care of the standard mask. Here's a handy list: In general –

When taking your mask off –
  • Wash your hands beforehand.
  • Only touch the ear loops or head ties, or the inside of the reusable mask, when taking it off. The idea is that we want to avoid touching the front of the mask.
  • Put it in a closed, breathable container like a paper bag—between uses—and place it away from your common spaces.
  • Wash your hands immediately after.
  • When you've worn the reusable mask a couple of times, wash it according to recommended care tips.




Well... can I wash a clear mask with the plastic and all?


Yes! It's very similar to washing other fabric masks. A lot of the businesses we have on our site have their own set of instructions, so we suggest reading those and abiding by them. If your accessible mask vendor doesn't provide care tips, we recommend it's best to hand wash your reusable clear mask with soap and hot water. You could also put it in the washing machine if you do a gentle or delicate wash with a load that isn't too heavy. Afterwards, hang it somewhere to naturally air-dry. (Fresh air is your friend.) We don't recommend putting it in the dryer since it could affect the plastic.




*breathes* What about fogging?


Good thought! Very similar to glasses, fogging does happen with clear masks—but there are easy solutions with anti-fog products you can purchase or with remedies using stuff you have at home!




Can I stop fogging with stuff I have at home?


Absolutely. All you need is dish soap, hand soap, or baby shampoo, and clean hands! Drop a very small dab of the soap—the size of a shirt button or less—onto the inside layer of the clear mask. Spread and rub it across the entire span of the inner plastic with your finger. Letting it air-dry before using it right away helps!




Can I purchase anti-fogging products & where can I find them?


Definitely. There are sports anti-fog spray or glasses anti-fog products on major e-commerce or department store websites for purchase. Anti-fog products are also available at The Hearing Spot, Rafi Nova, Happy Laugh Masks, and ShowMySmile.




Is it hard to breathe with the plastic, though?


It's not any different than the face masks you're already wearing. Although, we may not recommend wearing a clear mask for strenuous runs or exercise, when you can opt for looser face coverings.




I have anxiety wearing a mask. What do you recommend?


We totally understand—wearing masks is new for most of us. Your emotions and anxiety are 100% valid. Here's an idea: It may help to start wearing the mask bit by bit. Wear it for 20 minutes when comfortably sitting and watching TV, reading a book, or doing your favorite relaxing activity. Try wearing it again while doing errands, like the dishes or laundry, around your house. Then go for a walk in your neighborhood. Finally, you'll hopefully be comfortable wearing your clear mask confidently on your outings. ** Call 1-800-273-TALK or text "HELLO" to 741741 if you want to talk to someone. Anxiety is real and there are people available to listen and help you.





+ and more

Are clear masks FDA approved?


Not all of them are! The Food Drug Administration (FDA) checks medical devices to see if they meet standards on use in medical settings. Pandemic shortages have led to requests for the general population to save medical-grade masks for frontline workers. If you need them, we're proud to showcase The Communicator™ by Safe'N'Clear, which is FDA approved for medical-grade purposes. It's produced in a FDA registered facility and meets ASTM F2100 Level 1 protection, which has a >95% bacterial and particle filtration efficiency.




What is accessiblemasks.org?


Hello! We're glad you're curious–and hope you have a transparent face covering soon! accessiblemasks.org is a project created by two deaf brothers born and raised in New England: Jacob deHahn, a UX/UI & research designer in San Francisco, and Patrick deHahn, a journalist in Brooklyn. With zero financial strings, this website is solely built as a curated platform for people to easily find clear face masks and help make the masked world accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing.




Why accessiblemasks.org?


First of all, we take the pandemic seriously and encourage mask usage. However, we've personally dealt with the challenges of how the masked world is inaccessible. So we hope this is an easy go-to resource for everyone to start wearing an accessible mask—that includes those in the service industry, school systems, essential businesses, elderly care, and the election process. Whether you buy a mask for yourself personally or encourage others to transition to clear masks, thank you for your role in global accessibility.




How'd you find these businesses?


Most of these businesses and vendors were found by our own research and verification (some we purchased and or were recommended by deaf and hard of hearing friends). We've communicated with each business and verified their goals in supporting accessibility. All photos provided on accessiblemasks.org have been approved by each business.




Can I contact you? Can I recommend a business/vendor?


Please do! We're at accessiblemasks@gmail.com if you want to shoot us an email, or catch us at @accessiblemasks on Instagram. If you know of a vendor you like and support, please don't hesitate to pass them along to us via email at accessiblemasks@gmail.com.




What does the CDC, or doctors, say about clear masks?


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the following about clear masks:
People who are deaf or hard of hearing—or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired—may be unable to wear masks if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear mask. If a clear mask isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication, use closed captioning, or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a mask that blocks your lips. When it comes down to it, a mask is better than no mask. There hasn't been much research, if any definitive, on the safety of clear masks. Either way, doctors recommend that you make sure the accessible mask covers your nose and mouth, is made well with strongly woven layered cloth, and with no breathable holes through the plastic or cloth.





Want to learn more about accessibility or curious about who's behind accessiblemasks.org?

© 2020 accessiblemasks.org

An accessibility resource created by two deaf siblings, Jacob & Patrick deHahn.

Feel free to contact us at accessiblemasks@gmail.com.