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A senior at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in deaf education, has created innovative new face masks ideal for the hearing impaired. Ashley Lawrence shared the masks on Facebook, showing how they have a transparent area around the mouth to allow the hearing impaired to read lips.
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The masks also allow people to see the wearer's facial expressions, which is crucial when using American Sign Language. "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?" told LEX 18 21-year-old Lawrence.
"I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over," Lawrence added. "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 got to work with the aid of her mother and made the masks out of bedsheets. And the transparent screen is not the only hearing impaired-friendly addition they made.
"We're trying different things too for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids if they can't wrap around the ears," Lawrence said. "We're making some that wrap around the head and around the neck."
Best of all, Lawrence says she is providing the face masks for free. "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 added.
Lawrence has also created a GoFundMe page for those wishing to help with her project. "(We) have set up this GoFundMe as a way to offset the costs of materials, shipping, etc." said Lawrence on her page.
Lawrence added that any money raised that is not used for the masks will be donated to Hands & Voices, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.