Student Designs Coronavirus Face Masks For Deaf And Hard Of Hearing People

Josie Harvey

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Interpreting medical information during the coronavirus pandemic is stressful for anyone, but this is heightened for the deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) community. One 21-year-old in America has come up with a solution, and she’s “overwhelmed” with the response so far.

Ashley Lawrence, a student at Eastern Kentucky University who studies education for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, noticed that since so much of the population now are opting to wear protective face masks, those in the community who rely on lip reading are struggling to access critical information. So she got productive with all the extra time she’s now spending at home due to the outbreak.

“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence told local news station LEX18. “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 and her mom set to work sewing masks using plastic fabric and bed sheets, experimenting with various attachments for people who use cochlear implants and hearing aids and can’t wrap mask straps around their ears.

With personal protective equipment in short supply around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised for weeks that masks should be preserved for medical professionals, people who are sick and those caring for them. On Thursday, officials said they will soon likely issue new guidance that everyone should wear a cloth mask or facial covering in public settings. In the UK, the wearing of face masks by healthy people has not been recommended by the government, despite the US government’s shift.

On a GoFundMe page titled, “DHH Mask Project”, Lawrence said she would distribute her specialised masks for free to those who request them so...

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