Across the world, there is a fear of running out of protective face masks as everyone attempts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, one student decided to help out by accommodating for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, after she realised protective face masks didn’t cater to their needs.
Ashley Laurence, 21, decided to make protective face masks for those who are deaf or are hard of hearing as she realised this group of people would find it impossible to understand people when they had to cover their mouths – meaning lip reading was not an option.
So, to make this no longer a problem for many people across the world, Ashley set about designing a protective face mask that would accommodate these needs, along with the help of her mum.
To make a batch of protective face gear, they used small transparent windows which would allow deaf people to understand what was being said.
Ashley, who studies Deaf Education at Eastern Kentucky University then posted the design to Facebook where many praised her thoughtfulness and clever thinking. The post was shared in the thousands.
Ashley wrote in the Facebook post: “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 healthy.”
After she finished making the protective face masks, Ashley wanted to give them away for free to the people that desperately needed them. However, as there was such a high demand she could no longer keep up. Determined that people wouldn’t miss out, she decided to teach people how to make their own through an online tutorial which shows it step by step.
Later on, Ashley updated the post: “I am completely overwhelmed with the love you have all given these masks. We’ve updated the pattern for the mask to be easier to make.
“We’d love for you to make some or send you the pattern to make some.”
Ashley noted that although it’s great to wear the masks, for anyone who has hard hearing it’s made extra difficult when someone has one over their face. With the transparent window in place, this defeats the obstacle as lip reading is an option.
She said that American sign language relies very much on lip reading, therefore, these masks would enable people to continue this.