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.
“ for anyone who uses speech reading, lip reading, anybody like that, and people who are profoundly deaf who use ASL as their primary mode of communication,” she told NBC-affiliate WLEX-TV.
“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.
“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.”
They’ve been crafting the masks out of bed sheets and plastic fabric. The mother-daughter duo are even making ones that wrap around the head instead of ears for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids.
“I’m not charging anything for them because I think that if you need them, then you need them and I don’t think that you should have to pay for them,” Lawrence said.
Overwhelmed with the number of requests for masks, she told CBS News that she’s working on putting together a group of people to help out.
In less than two days, she’s already received dozens of orders from six states.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
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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