Capper requests modified masks to allow vital part of therapy

Courtesy: DHH Mask Project
Courtesy: DHH Mask Project(WIBW)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 5:31 PM CDT
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Marti Martinez is overcoming a speech delay with help from speech language pathologist Jenny Stous at Capper Foundation in Topeka.

"Since he's been going to Cappers, it's just been word explosion after word explosion," said Marti's mom, Sudia.

One of Stous' best therapy tools is her mouth. But it's a tool a traditional face mask would take away.

"Kids learn through imitation, and if I have my mouth covered, kids like Marti who are learning speech sound - they cannot visualize my mouth to see what I'm doing, whether I'm closing my lips for a "puh" or I'm elevating my tongue for a 'tuh' and a'duh,'" Stous, CCP-SLP, explained. "Kids who are learning social language skills, where we teach them - okay, when I'm happy, my mouth smiles; when I'm upset, I'm going to frown. If my mouth is covered, they can't see those things I'm showing them."

It's also vital for people with hearing impairment.

"You take out that lip reading aspect and you've silenced a person in a whole other way," Stous said.

Stous and Marti can still see each other's faces for their sessions virtually, using online video services like Zoom. But Capper would like to bring them back together in person.

To do that, Capper hopes the community can help by making modified facemasks. They have a transparent window, covering the mouth, while keeping it in view. It would allow in-person therapy to resume.

"We need the masks because we are so close and face to face with kids, but there are some obstacles we have to overcome," Stous said.

While Stous says parents have been great as sessions moved online, Marti's mom Sudia says it can't fully replace the in-person experience.

"He gets distracted a lot of the time, like when we're at home trying to do his Zoom class. It's just more apt for him to talk to Miss Jenny one on one. You get more out of him," she said.

Stous agreed that getting kids back into their regular routine will help them - and her, too.

"We are all ready to get back to Capper, to get back to that family, and get our kids back!" she said.

The DHH Mask Project (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) has an instructional video for making the modified masks. You can find it


Donations can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Capper Foundation's building, 3500 SW 10th Ave. Use the main entrance on the north side of building, via SW Orleans St.