Student Creates Transparent Masks for Deaf Community

College senior Ashley Lawrence noticed that many people were making their own face masks to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but the masks being sewn were not necessarily adaptable for certain disability communities. So Lawrence decided to design a face mask with a clear window that allows others to see and read lips and facial expressions. Lawrence studies education for the deaf and hard of hearing and felt that the community was being left out with the call for individuals to wear masks from the CDC.

“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,” Lawrence said on her GoFundMe page. “The solution seemed clear to me: just like there are fabric surgical masks being made, so too does there need to be masks made that are adapted for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Lawrence modified the traditional fabric mask design to be a suitable option for those who read lips or rely on facial expressions when communication with others. Lawrence is currently distributing the masks free of charge to anyone who needs one. This new mask design with a transparent screen comes at a time when masks and other medical supplies are a much-needed item to fight the spread of coronavirus.

While those involved in the project are working as hard as they can to produce the masks, they won’t be able to make all of them themselves. Lawrence wants to send the pattern and tutorial on how to make them to anyone interested in sewing the masks to distribute in their own communities.

Those who are part of the deaf or hard of hearing community who would like to request a mask be sent to them can reach out to Lawrence at [email protected].


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