A Clearer Way To Communicate

“I did not knowingly set out to commercialize a transparent medical face mask. My husband and I had decided to start our family; when the time came to deliver our daughter, all indications were that we would have a natural child birth experience and that I would be able to communicate as I always do. I have severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears so I depend on lip reading. After 25+ hours of labor and no bundle of joy in our arms yet, the OB/GYN on call recommended we proceed with a C-section. We were transferred to an operating room where everyone was garbed in surgical scrubs from head to toe. I was not able to understand when they communicated. For someone who has three degrees in communication, that was not a situation in which I was accustomed. I realized how ‘helpless’ I was.

“We were blessed with a healthy baby, but I could never get the experience out of my head. I began to think about how many people have gone through a similar experience. One in seven Americans has deafness to the extent that communication is impacted. And, through communication courses, we learn that most communication understanding comes from our non-verbal facial expressions so a face mask with a clear window is good for everyone, whether you have hearing challenges or not.

Carolina instilled in me to serve our community… I could not pass up an opportunity here to make the world a better place.”

— Anne McIntosh ’88

McIntosh, Ph.D., spearheaded efforts to get FDA-approved transparent face mask, Safe ‘N’ Clear The Communicator, which helps provide better communication between medical providers and patients, to the market. She says her Carolina experience had great impact on her work to create the mask and that she is “touched by Carolina every day in [her] thoughts, words and actions.”