The current pandemic has brought about a severe shortage of essential medical equipment and supplies, particularly face masks. As such, people have no choice but to resort to making their own. While this improvisation somehow provides a temporary solution to the problem, Ashley Lawrence couldn’t help but notice another underlying issue. That is the lack of supply of masks that are suitable for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The 21-year-old studies deaf education at Eastern Kentucky University. As such, she understands the need for people with hearing impairment to see the mouths of the ones they’re talking to for lip reading. Unfortunately, such would be difficult, if not impossible, as nearly everyone wears a mask these days. In turn, this gave Lawrence an idea for a new project to work on.
“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?”
With her mom’s help, Lawrence was able to make masks that feature a plastic window that keeps the mouth visible. She stressed that it’s also vital to see a person’s lips even for those who use American Sign Language (ASL).
“I don’t know if you have seen Virginia Moore on Andy Beshear’s things at five o’clock, but she’s very emotive, and if half of that is gone because you’re wearing a mask then half of what you’re saying is being missed, so even if it’s not physically talking and just using ASL, then you need to have that kind of access.”
Lawrence shared her creation on her Facebook page, gaining attention and positive responses from the media and the online community. Soon, it proved the underlying demand for face masks of this kind. The 21-year-old has also set up a GoFundMe page to help support her cause.
As of writing, the DHH Mas Project has already successfully met its goal, raising a total of $3,387. As such, Lawrence suggests extending the donations to a charity for the deaf and hard of hearing instead. Meanwhile, she has also shared a step-by-step tutorial to guide those who would like to create the masks on their own.
Source: Ashley Lawrence | DHH Mask Project