The Clear Talker mask, developed at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) in Richmond, is meant to help communication between patients and staff. When masks became a requirement at all federal health care facilities, the hospital’s Assistive Technology team (AT) realized how much current surgical masks hindered communication.

“I noticed after wearing a mask all day that I would come home and my eyes were tired,” said Melissa Oliver, occupational therapist and program coordinator of the AT team. “I had to rely on just my eyes to physically express my greeting.” John Miller, Brian Burkhardt and Seth Hills are rehabilitation engineers who work with Oliver. Their expertise, including vacuum forming, injection molding, laser cutting, electronics, 3D printing and a whole range of other valuable skills, helps Veterans return to a sense of normalcy.

Read more on the invention in the VISN6 newsletter: