Kentucky college student makes masks for the deaf, hard of hearing community

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VERSAILLES, Ky. (WTHR) – A college senior from Kentucky wants to make sure that the deaf and hard of hearing community are not forgotten during this crisis.

Ashley Lawrence studies education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Eastern Kentucky University so it didn't take long for her to realize that the deaf community was being overlooked.

"I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over," Lawrence told 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."

So Lawrence got crafty with her mom and adapted the typical face mask to a new design that allows the deaf and hard of hearing to still be able to read lips.

"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.

Lawrence said her and her mom used bed sheets and plastic fabric that they already had to make masks that have a clear window to see people's mouth.

Lawrence said she is distributing the masks to anyone who needs one.

"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 told LEX18. "So we are sending them out for free whenever we have people asking for them and if they're foreign, then maybe we'll charge shipping, but other than that they're completely free."

In less than two days, Lawrence already had dozens of orders from six states. To order one of Lawrence's masks, reach out to her at dhhmaskproject@gmail.com.

Those who would like to help Lawrence with the cost of materials and shipping, she is accepting donations on her GoFundMe page.

Any money she raises that is not used directly for these masks at the end of the crisis will be donated to Hands & Voices. Hands & Voices is a non-profit, parent-driven organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.