Reusable Masks for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
With the increasing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis in America, healthcare workers are desperately seeking PPE, which is in short supply. Many people have been pitching in and creating reusable fabric masks, which the CDC has deemed acceptable for use during these desperate times. However, a key group are excluded from this movement: the deaf and hard of hearing. As a college student studying Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have a great appreciation for the ways in which the world is designed with hearing people in mind. 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. 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. Paper masks with clear pieces over the mouth already exist, but like the regular surgical masks, they are in short supply during this crisis. So I have modified the fabric mask pattern to be suitable for those who lip read or who rely on the facial expressions used when communicating in ASL to understand meaning and intention. I am distributing these masks to anyone who needs one, whether they are currently sick or not. Even though the CDC does not currently recommend those who are not sick wear masks in your daily life, if someone who needs these adaptive masks falls ill, they will have a mask to give to their doctor, so they can communicate more easily with each other. We are currently sending these out free of charge, and have set up this GoFundMe as a way to offset the costs of materials, shipping, etc. Any money we raise 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. You can learn more about their mission and how they utilize their funds by going to https://www.handsandvoices.org/index.htm. If you are a part of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing community and would like to request a mask, please reach out to us a [email redacted]. Thank you in advance for your support for this important project during a time of great need in the community and the world!
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