Kentucky college student makes coronavirus masks for deaf community

‘I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over’

WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (WLEX/CNN/Gray News) – Ashley Lawrence saw an undermet need as the world scrambled for masks in the middle of a pandemic.

The senior studying Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Eastern Kentucky University said the opportunity was there to help the community with masks that uniquely address their needs.

“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence said. “We’re all panicking right now and so a lot of people are just not being thought of.”

The deaf and hard of hearing need masks with plastic inserts that allow them to see more of each other’s faces.

"ASL (American Sign Language) is very big on facial expressions and it is that’s part of the grammar,” the 21-year-old said.

“If half of that is gone because you're wearing a mask, then half of what you're saying is being missed.”

Seeing the need, Lawrence decided to start producing them herself, along with some help from her mom.

They’re using bedsheets, clear plastic sheeting and elastic to create the reusable masks for the deaf and hard of hearing.

A GoFundMe page raised more than $3,000 to help fund the project.

As word got out about her project, she’s received dozens of orders.

They’re provided free of cost because Lawrence believes now is the time to help one another.

“The biggest thing during this time is, if you’re fine, if you’re at home and you’re not working, do something for someone else that will make you feel good and help someone out in the community.”

Copyright 2020 WLEX via CNN and Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.