See-through solution: Deaf Indonesians turn to clear coronavirus masks to help lip-reading

Faizah Badaruddin sews a homemade face mask which enables people with disabilities to read lips when communicating, in South Sulawesi on April 26, 2020.
Faizah Badaruddin sews a homemade face mask which enables people with disabilities to read lips when communicating, in South Sulawesi on April 26, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

MAKASSAR (AFP) - Lip-reading suddenly got tricky when everyone covered their faces during the coronavirus pandemic, but Indonesian tailors have hit upon the perfect solution - see-through masks.

One husband and wife duo in Makassar on Sulawesi island started producing cloth masks with transparent plastic in the middle to help fellow deaf people.

"Since the pandemic started, everyone is wearing face masks. For deaf people, we can't understand what others are saying because we can't read their lips," said 52-year-old Faizah Badaruddin.

"There were a lot of misunderstandings," she added.

Ms Badaruddin and her husband used to sew cushions, bed sheets and curtains for customers.

But when orders dried up, Ms Badaruddin looked up instructional videos online to work out how to produce masks for the hearing impaired.

Since early April, the little business has been producing as many as two dozen transparent masks a day in small, medium and large sizes.

They sell for between 10,000 rupiah and 15,000 rupiah (S$0.90 and S$1.37) each.