In an effort to improve communication accessibility while supporting the use of face coverings, the City of Tampa has purchased clear face masks for staff members who engage in frequent, direct contact with the community.
Individuals with hearing loss or communication challenges rely on the context of a situation, facial expressions, and the movement of the speaker’s lips to understand the conversation. Clear masks improve accessibility during communication by allowing individuals to see these visual cues that may otherwise be obscured by a traditional face covering or mask.
“During this global crisis, communication is more important than ever. Clear masks remove some of the barriers of communication that traditional masks can create while we strive to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe,” says Mayor Jane Castor. “It was important for us that we purchase these masks as an additional tool to make communication more accessible for our residents with disabilities and for those who may speak English as a second language or have difficulty hearing.”
The City of Tampa is encouraging staff to use face covering when interacting with community members. Switching to a clear mask is recommended in the following interactions with individuals who are:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Individuals in which English is a second language.
Individuals who are experiencing confusion, stress or anxiety.
Individuals who appear to have difficulty or express difficulty in understanding the conversation.
Nearly 2,000 clear masks will be distributed to city employees in various departments, including the Tampa Police Department, Tampa Fire Rescue, Parks & Recreation, Construction Services, and more.
For questions about the City’s ADA policies and initiatives, contact our ADA Coordinator, Ms. Raquel Pancho, at TampaADA@tampagov.net