FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Face masks are meant to protect people during the coronavirus pandemic, but for the deaf and hearing-impaired community, they have caused some challenges.
Brian Travers, a Coconut Creek man, had an idea that started with his family but has since gone global.READ MORE: 3 Children Injured In NW Miami-Dade Crash
Brian was born with a rare genetic disease called osteogenesis imperfecta, a bone condition. In 1995, he woke up one day and started losing his hearing over time.
Throughout his life, Brian has experienced being homeless and eventually transitioned into financial services, becoming a success story overnight by speaking about what happened to him and also advocating for disability insurance.
In 2008, while playing in the pool with his daughters, Brian suffered a spontaneous subdural hematomal, a rare and life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage that left him in a coma and on life support for a month. His wife Erin was ready to honor his wishes by donating his organs.
Brian survived despite the odds, and it took years of rehab and therapy for him to even walk again and regain cognitive functions.
Brian said he became a stay at home dad at the time, what he calls his favorite role of all. He still runs a website, offering resources for insurance for those who are disabled.
His wife Erin, inspired by the care he received, went to nursing school. She now works in the ICU and is on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic as a health care worker.
Brian, meanwhile, has struggled to communicate as someone who relies heavily on lip-reading. After only one parent lowered his face mask for Brian at his child’s school, Brian felt he should make face masks with plastic coverings over the lips for his family members.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Residents Gather To Protest Closure Of Matheson Hammock Park's West Entrance
After he got a lot of attention at his hospital and local supermarket, Brian posted his face masks online and within an hour they started getting orders.
“Every day, I wake up and see new orders. I spend my days at the sewing machine making masks. It’s an incredible experience,” said Brian, “Biggest perhaps communication thing that you could receive is a smile.”
Brian’s masks are now going global, which has kept him quite busy until his cochlear implant surgery, which was postponed due to the pandemic.
A touching video captured the moment Brian heard his wife say, ‘I love you’ for the first time in 25 years.
“It’s only fitting that when I woke up from that coma, the first person I saw was my wife,” said Brian. “Fitting that when I could hear Friday for the first time, my wife to be sitting there. To see her face and her joy. She is so deserving of this. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
Right after, Brian, a Rhode Islander turned Floridian went straight to the beach.
“I wanted to go to hear the ocean and I did,” said Brian. “It sounds greater than ever.”
Brian’s once silent world is now full of sounds he’s been yearning to hear.MORE NEWS: RNC Donors Gather To Hear Trump, Others In Palm Beach, The GOP's 'New Political Power Center'
“I can hear the wind. I can hear the birds. My life is just so wonderful,” said Brian. “I get to hear my kids. There’s not much more I need.”