A student has made a genius face mask for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Ashley Lawrence, a college student studying Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, realised that personal protection equipment (PPE) did not cater for those who communicate via sign language or lip reading. When doctors and nurses are wearing them, they can’t understand what is being said.
She decided to make some out of fabric, and is sending them for free to medical staff, as PPE is in huge demand, but short supply. She’s also said that she will give them to anyone who needs one, whether they’re sick or not. She’s set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs for distribution and materials, but is not charging hospitals or the public a penny.
In her GoFundMe, she writes: “With the increasing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis in America, healthcare workers are desperately seeking PPE, which is in short supply. Many people have been pitching in and creating reusable fabric masks, which the CDC has deemed acceptable for use during these desperate times.
“However, a key group are excluded from this movement: the deaf and hard of hearing. As a college student studying Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have a great appreciation for the ways in which the world is designed with hearing people in mind. Those who rely on lip reading or ASL to communicate are often cut off from their source of communication when doctors and nurses don surgical masks. The solution seemed clear to me: just like there are fabric surgical masks being made, so too does there need to be masks made that are adapted for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Paper masks with clear pieces over the mouth already exist, but like the regular surgical masks, they are in short supply during this crisis. So I have modified the fabric mask pattern to be suitable for those who lip read or who rely on the facial expressions used when communicating in ASL to understand meaning and intention.”
She also added that any money raised that’s left over once the pandemic is over will be donated to Hands & Voices, anon-profit, parent-driven organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
She continued: “I am distributing these masks to anyone who needs one, whether they are currently sick or not. Even though the CDC does not currently recommend those who are not sick wear masks in your daily life, if someone who needs these adaptive masks falls ill, they will have a mask to give to their doctor, so they can communicate more easily with each other. We are currently sending these out free of charge, and have set up this GoFundMe as a way to offset the costs of materials, shipping, etc. Any money we raise that is not used directly for these masks at the end of the crisis will be donated to Hands & Voices. Hands & Voices is a non-profit, parent-driven organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can learn more about their mission and how they utilize their funds by going to https://www.handsandvoices.org/index.htm. If you are a part of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing community and would like to request a mask, please reach out to us a email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your support for this important project during a time of great need in the community and the world!”
This is incredible. Well done, Ashley!
Support her GoFundMe here.
Featured image credit: GoFundMe