The coronavirus pandemic has left hospitals all over the world in need of masks. Hospital staff should always be wearing these masks to protect themselves and their patients, but one young woman has recognized and addressed a problem that they posed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.
You see, traditional masks completely cover the mouth. And if you can’t hear, you will likely either need to rely on sign language (which the hospital staff may or may not know) or lip-reading. Ashley Lawrence, a Deaf Education student at Eastern Kentucky University, started making special masks to help patients read their doctors’ lips before the pandemic began. The masks feature a transparent window that lets a patient see the wearer’s mouth without compromising the user’s safety.
Lawrence started seeing people showing off their homemade masks on Facebook, and she decided she wanted her creation to accomplish the same goal, but in a more accessible way. She started sewing even more masks and will even be sharing the patterns that she uses so that other people can make them for themselves, their loved ones, or hospital workers.
She posted pictures of her work on Facebook along with an explanation for how the creation came about:
“So right before the pandemic, masks were made and made commercialized to help people with hearing loss have access to their doctor’s mouths for lip-reading/speech reading. 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 #HealthyatHome Governor Andy Beshear Andy Beshear #TeamKentucky
EDIT: I am completely overwhelmed with the love you all have given these masks! We’ve updated the pattern for the mask to be easier to make. We’d love to make you some, or send you the pattern to make your own!! We are #TogetherKentucky“
We love this incredible idea and hope that more hospitals can get their hands on these masks both now and after the pandemic is over!