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See-through masks help employees and customers feel included at Arlington Chick-fil-A

For those who are hard of hearing and read lips, the typical mask worn in this pandemic makes it hard to keep communicating. One business owner found a solution.

ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s not often you find a fast food drive-thru known for being nice, but that's the case at the Chick-fil-A on Arlington's Little Road. 

"We definitely look for someone who has a great smile," said owner Tiffany Hassler.

If you want to work for her, kindness is a requirement. It’s how she hires. 

"I can teach you how to make a chicken sandwich, but I can’t teach you how to love others well," said Hassler. 

She’s got a point, but we’d argue what she did last month is a lesson in love for all of us. When the pandemic hit, Hassler weighed how best to keep her business going between her two Arlington locations.

"When you have 180 people that work with you and you care about their well being and their families? Yeah, there’s some sleepless nights," she said. 

Hassler increased cleaning measures and ordered 200 masks, but she realized those masks that she’d ordered to keep out germs, were isolating a well-loved employee. Her name is Carly Bias.

"I just, I thought about how isolating that would be, especially for her," said Hassler. 

"I lost my hearing at the age of 5. I had spinal meningitis," said Bias. "So I learned how to lip read and speak that way."

This is her 5th year at the restaurant and the first where face coverings made it hard to do her job.

"I was very quiet when we had the mask and not the clear," Bias said. "I wasn’t upset or mad, I was just in my own little world."

That’s no way to live or work, and Hassler knew it, so she found a solution. It has two ties in the back, and a game changer in the front. A mask with clear paneling in the center created by a college senior in Kentucky, built specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing. 

Hassler placed an order, and after they arrived the team surprised Bias at the start of her shift.  

"Oh my goodness, I was like, 'Wow, they care!'" said Bias. 

Now, good luck keeping up with her! She's back to delivering meals curbside with her typical vim and vigor. 

"I can do what anybody else does,"' said Bias. "Hearing and communicating makes me feel free!"

Turns out, customers like it too! 

"I think seeing people’s lips, even if they’re not hard of hearing, I think makes a totally different connection to people," said Matthew Flores, who had Bias bring him his order to his car. 

"There’s a lot of things that words can’t say," he said. "That’s what a smile does."

Bias’s world has reopened, thanks to her boss, who showed she loves others well.

"This helps miss Carly feel like she belongs," said Hassler, about her good deed. 

"I feel blessed," said Bias. "Special...I don’t think I can say enough!"

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