College student designs masks specially made for deaf community

As protective masks continue to sell out worldwide thanks to the novel coronavirus spread, one college student noticed a demographic left out of the equation.

Ashley Lawrence, a Deaf Education major at Eastern Kentucky University, knows that many in the deaf community rely on lip reading for comprehension.

The 21-year-old decided to design a mask just for them, featuring a transparent rectangle so the mouth is fully visible and protected, for those who read lips.

She’s now giving them away for free as part of her DHH Mask Project.

“ASL is very big on facial expressions and it is part of the grammar.”

She and her mom teamed up, putting their crafting skills to good use, and designed the reusable masks, which she intends on distributing free of charge to whoever needs them, per her GoFundMe.

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“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence continued. “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.”

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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