MILLBURN, NJ — Mountainside resident and owner of Denim & Tailor in Millburn, Mark Zacieracha, is a professional tailor who has found a way to assist children and adults that rely on facial ques and lip-reading to improve their understanding of spoken language during a time when face coverings are recommended.  

MaryKate Vaughn, an Audiologist and New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) Board Member, identified a concern and raised the question of how the organization could help ensure improved communication during a time when wearing a face covering is recommended by offering a face mask with a clear view of the mouth.

The New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) is a group of professionals that know the importance of communication.  Communication encompasses speaking and hearing, but many of the children and adults they serve rely on facial cues or lip-reading to improve understanding of spoken language and to communicate effectively.  Once this problem was identified, Mary Faella, Speech-Language Pathologist and Immediate Past President of NJSHA approached her neighbor Zacieracha for help.

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“I knew this was going to be a huge success. Mark worked diligently on a variety of prototypes. He really wanted to meet the needs of our patients, students and clients,” said Faella.  Zacieracha explained, “I was out of work since the beginning of the virus, and Mary asked me to design a mask with a clear front so her mouth could be visible, so she could interact and consult with her patients. The Window Mask was created.”  

The design has a rigid piece of plastic that rests away from the face, enabling the listener to see a person’s mouth and allow for a more efficient means of communication. Faella further explained, “traditional masks muffle speech quality, and for patients or clients with language disorders and/or hearing loss, this can be detrimental.”  The Window Masks can also be fitted over the head instead of behind the ears to avoid interference for people who wear hearing aids. “My husband, Al, who wears hearing devices, says it is a more comfortable alternative. He just loves Mark’s mask! This mask will benefit so many adults and children with hearing and communication disorders, just imagine being able to see someone smile!” said Faella.

“I have hundreds of them for speech therapists in NJ and I am now offering them nationwide on my website,” said Zacieracha. Masks are currently available in ten colors.  Zacieracha is also donating $1.00 from every purchase to the NJSHA when code: NJSHA is entered at checkout.