Dean Ezekiel reveals the personal story that inspired him to design transparent face coverings – and how a university’s input and support helped him make sustainability a priority
Face masks have been an essential part of limiting the spread of Covid-19. But for many people who are deaf or hearing-impaired, the coverings have left them isolated from society. When Dean Ezekiel’s wife Aimee, who is partially deaf, attended a pregnancy scan during the first lockdown, she was distraught to find she had no way to determine what the doctor was saying. “Because he was wearing a mask, she couldn’t read his lips. She felt helpless without the use of basic communication,” says Ezekiel.
It was that experience that inspired the entrepreneur to start Design Abled and develop Helloface, a transparent, recyclable face mask, which is compatible with facial recognition technology. The startup was recently recognised for its sustainability credentials, winning the microbusiness category at the Heroes of Net Zero competition at Cop26.