A college student from Versailles decided to take matters into her own hands and committed to a project to help the deaf and hard of hearing community. What did she do? She decided to make masks not only help them from COVID-19, but that will also help them communicate with others without having to take them off.
According to 21-year-old Ashley Lawrence, she saw people making masks on Facebook for their friends and family instead of using throwaway masks. That’s when she realized that the deaf and hard of hearing community didn’t have any that adapted to their needs.
Lawrence is a senior studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Eastern Kentucky University. Due to the coronavirus pandemic occurring around the world, she is now living back at home and is doing her student teaching from there. In regards to why she wanted to create the masks, she noted, “I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over. We’re all panicking right now and so a lot of people are just not being thought of. So, I felt like it was very important that, even at a time like this, people need to have that communication.”
That’s when she teamed up with her mother, who supported her all the way through and put their amazing craft skills to work. The Kentuck student stated they began to make the masks with bed sheets they had, which allowed them to do two or three sets. Luckily, the family had plastic fabric from another project they were doing the month before. Although her mission focuses on helping the hard of hearing and the deaf community, she did note the family is going the extra mile. The student stated, “We’re trying different things for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids if they can’t wrap around the ears. We’re making some that have around the head and around the neck.”
So, why is it necessary for there to be a plastic window on the mask? Well, it is crucial for those who use speech reading and lip-reading. Usually, people who are profoundly deaf and use ASL as their primary mode of communication rely on big facial expression, since it is part of their grammar. Basically, a typical mask would cover their expressive features, and half of the sentence would be gone since what one is saying might be missed. Which is why the plastic window would be helpful for them to communicate easier.
In less than two days, Lawrence already had dozens of orders from six states. So, If you would like to order or donate to her cause, you can contact her at [email protected] If you would like to help Lawrence with the cost of shipping or materials, you can donate via her GoFundMe page here.
This article was originally published April 2, 2020.