The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), but those who are crafty enough have been making their own face masks from recycled fabric at home. The CDC has approved many of these homemade masks as acceptable precautionary protection, but there’s one design flaw—by covering our mouths with fabric, the masks make it impossible for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate. That’s why Kentucky-based, 21-year-old college student Ashley Lawrence designed a reusable face mask with a see-through window.
“As a college student studying Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have a great appreciation for the ways in which the world is designed with hearing people in mind,” says Lawrence. “Those who rely on lip-reading or ASL to communicate are often cut off from their source of communication when doctors and nurses don surgical masks.” Using some old bedsheets and translucent plastic fabric for the window, Lawrence cleverly modified the standard mask so that it’s suitable for those who lip-read or who rely on the facial expressions.
Lawrence launched her idea on GoFundMe to help cover her production costs, and, as of April 2, 2020, she reached her goal. Lawrence is now distributing her masks to anyone who needs one, free of charge. And she even plans to upload a DIY tutorial on YouTube, so you can make her face mask design at home.
Although Lawrence has already raised the funds she needs, you can still donate to her cause. Profits will be donated to Hands & Voices, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Find out more about the reusable masks for the deaf and hard of hearing on Lawrence’s GoFundMe campaign.