Norwalk teacher creates mask to help hearing-impaired students

A Norwalk special-education teacher created a solution for hearing-impaired students who have problems understanding their teachers wearing masks.
"There's always a way," says Angela Rinaldi.
It has been her motto as a teacher for 26 years, and it has been critical during the pandemic.
Rinaldi is the assistant technology specialist for Norwalk Public Schools. She came up with a solution after learning hearing-impaired students were having problems understanding teachers wearing masks.
It was especially difficult since Norwalk educators teach in person and remotely at the same time.
Rinaldi got to work designing a mask that holds a small Bluetooth microphone and pairs with a computer. She calls it the Bleu Mask.
It allows teachers to simultaneously teach students in class and at home, and be heard clearly by everyone, no matter where the teacher is standing.
Rinaldi also made a version with a clear panel to help students who read lips. She soon found her invention was a hit beyond the initial target group.
Kelsey LaPrad is a special-education teacher at Brien McMahon High School. LaPrad says her students require a lot of help.
"It gave me the tools to finally feel like nobody was being left out, everybody was engaged and everybody was excited about learning," said LePrad.
Rinaldi says she's gotten inquiries from far beyond the city -- even Sweden.