College Student Makes Masks for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community
By Allyson Vannatta, Staff Writer
A college student put her newfound free time to use by chipping in to help make masks for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Ashely Lawrence, a senior at Eastern Kentucky University explained the idea behind her masks.
“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 said.
Lawrence studies education for the deaf and hard of hearing community and wanted to help them however she could.
“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence said. “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.”
The reason she wanted to make the masks is because having a plastic window where the mouth is, is a necessity for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“For anyone who uses speech reading, lip reading, anybody like that. And people who are profoundly deaf who use ASL as their primary mode of communication. ASL is very big on facial expressions and it is part of the grammar. … 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.”
After she found there was a need for these masks, she and her mother started sewing away.
Lawrence told WLEX News,
“We started out making them with bed sheets that we had, and luckily bed sheets are big. So we have two or three sets so we’re making them out of that. Then, a couple months ago we needed plastic fabric for something. And so we have a whole roll of that and the window is only this big so having a whole roll is very helpful so luckily we haven’t needed any supplies yet.”
According to WLEX, Lawrence already has orders from six states for the masks.
“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,” she said. “So we are sending them out for free whenever we have people asking for them and if they’re foreign, then maybe we’ll charge shipping, but other than that they’re completely free.”
Lawrence started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her project. If you would like to give, click here.