Standard surgical masks block faces preventing the ability to see facial expressions and read lips, especially for patients relying on visual communication such as deaf and hard of hearing patients.
Standard surgical masks immediately bring about a communication barrier, as 55% of communication is visible. Therefore a transparent face mask with full face visibility makes the conversation more natural and human.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 466 million people globally with impaired hearing loss. Being deaf or hard of hearing is frightening enough without a world crisis on hand.
A senior student, Ashley Lawrence studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Easter Kentucky University, saw the need to accommodate these people.
Ashley felt that everyone is so involved in the current crisis we are facing, that those with disabilities are overlooked and that it is essential at a time like this that all people be able to communicate while adhering to safety and infection control standards.
After a discussion with her mother, they decided to act for the deaf and hard of hearing community. But how do you do this with no access to non-essential goods?
Where else than the linen closet. With a few bedsheets and plastic fabric, they used months ago for something else, that’s how they can make masks with a plastic window.
Ashley is doing this for free, as she believes that if you need this mask, you should not pay for it. They have been sending the masks to dozens of hospitals and deaf individuals and launched a “GoFundMe” campaign to cover the cost of materials, handling, shipping of the masks.
Ashley Lawrence has gone above and beyond the call of duty, protecting people who are deaf or hard of hearing from risking exposure.
According to The World Health Organisation, suggestions about wearing a mask:
If you are healthy and taking care of a person that is sick.
If you are coughing or sneezing.
Masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with an alcohol-based rub or soap and water.
Before using a mask, make sure your hands are clean.
Cover your nose and mouth properly with no gaps between your face and the mask.
Replace damp mask and do not reuse masks.
Remove mask from behind, do not touch the front of the mask. Discard in a closed bin and clean your hands.
Thanks to Ashley Lawrence for permission to use images.