A senior at Eastern Kentucky University who is majoring in deaf education came up with a unique new face mask. What’s so special about this face mask? It has been created for those who have their hearing impaired. Ashley Lawrence has shared the masks on Facebook and people love it!
The masks feature a transparent area around the mouth thus allowing the hearing impaired to read the lips of the speaker. The masks enable people to read the wearer’s facial expressions which are critical when you are using American Sign Language. 21 years old Lawrence said, ‘I just saw that people were making masks on Facebook for everyone to have instead of the throwaway masks, and I was like, what about the deaf and hard of hearing population?’
She also added, ‘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.’ Lawrence started working on the design with the help of her mother and created the masks from bedsheets. The transparent screen is not the only modification they made to make it friendly for hearing impaired.
Lawrence said, ‘We’re trying different things too for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids if they can’t wrap around the ears. We’re making some that wrap around the head and around the neck.’ What’s more, is that Lawrence is providing the face masks for free. She says, ‘I’m not charging anything for them because I think that if you need them, then you need them and I don’t think that you should have to pay for them.’
Lawrence has also formed a GoFundMe page for those who want to help out with her project. She wrote on her page, ‘(We) have set up this GoFundMe as a way to offset the costs of materials, shipping, etc.’ She has also added that any money raised will not be used for the masks will be donated to Hands & Voices. Hands & Voices is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting families of children who are hard of hearing or deaf.