Health

College Student Designs Face Masks For The Deaf, Hard of Hearing Community

“Because of the shortage of masks, everyone started making their own, so I thought: why not make them for all?”

Facebook/Ashley Lawrence

Ashley Lawrence, a senior Deaf education major at Eastern Kentucky University, noticed that people were starting to make their own masks in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But there weren’t any masks designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing — so Lawrence decided to create her own.

"So right before the pandemic, masks were made and made commercialized to help people with hearing loss have access to their doctor's mouths for lip reading/speech reading. Because of the shortage of masks, everyone started making their own, so I thought: why not make them for all??" Lawrence said in a now-deleted Facebook post debuting the design.

The masks feature transparent screens around the mouth, which allows people who know how to lip-read to see the lips of the person wearing them. They also better show the facial expressions of the wearer, which is important for those communicating using American Sign Language.

Lawrence’s post garnered a lot of attention, as well as requests for her masks. She told NowThis that she is working hard to “get a local group together to help with the high demand,” and that a pattern/tutorial would soon be available for people to follow via email.

“We have been so completely overwhelmed by the response, and pleased that we could do our part to bring awareness to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community,” she explained.

To order one of Lawrence's masks, reach out at dhhmaskproject@gmail.com.