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College student sewing face masks designed for deaf, hard of hearing community

Screens ensure people are able to see the facial expressions of the wearer
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Posted at 12:14 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 12:14:50-04

Ashley Lawrence, a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, noticed that many people have started making their own face masks due to the shortage of medical supplies but didn't see masks designed for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Ashley decided to take matters into her own hands!

"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," Ashley said in a Facebook post on Monday. "Because of the shortage of masks, everyone started making their own, so I thought: why not make them for all?? This is how we stay #HealthyatHome"

Ashley, who is majoring in deaf education, posted photos of two face mask designs that were both made with transparent screens around the mouth.

The transparent screens allow those who know how to lipread in the deaf and hard of hearing community to read the lips of the person wearing the mask, CBS News explained.

The screen are their to ensure people are able to see the facial expressions of the wearer, which is vital for people communicating in American Sign Language.

Ashley's Facebook post has gotten a lot of attention and many people reached out to ask for one of her masks!

"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," Lawrence wrote in an email sent to CBS News on Thursday, signed the "DHH Mask Project."

She also wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she is setting up a Facebook page for the project "to keep people who are helping up-to-date."

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