Student makes protective face masks for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
photo: iStock

Now that the CDC has recommended everyone wear a mask or a face covering when going into a populated area, the need for them is growing. 

A 21-year-old student at Eastern Kentucky University decided to help out the deaf and hard of hearing by creating face masks that are usable for people who speak American Sign Language. Traditional masks are difficult for people who rely on ASL (American Sign Language), because facial expressions are imperative for communication. 

The student, Ashley Lawrence, has received support on social media from celebrities like John Krasinski, who featured her on his Some Good News show. Plus, she's raised over $3,000 on her Go Fund Me to donate masks to the people who need them.

Ashley Lawrence, an Eastern Kentucky University student, created the masks with a see-through portion by the mouth.

The see-through plastic portion of the mask allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to read lips and see facial expressions, a crucial component of ASL. Lawrence studies elementary education for the deaf and is hard of hearing, so she's well versed in the needs of the community. 

One person on Twitter applauded the 21-year-old, and wrote, "Ashley Lawrence, a college senior from Versailles, put her stir-craziness to good use designing face masks for the deaf and hard of hearing. #BetterTogether."

Lawrence is getting attention from Kentucky leaders, who support her work.

"I’m grateful to Kentuckians who are stepping up to show compassion and resolve. It’s because of stories like this that we will make it through this. We are all in this together, even if we have to stand six feet apart," Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell tweeted. 

Lawrence and her mom put their crafting skills to work and began creating the accessible masks made out of bedsheets and clear plastic, NBC reports.

Even the White House tweeted a message of support for Lawrence's creativity.

"That's all-American innovation! Thank you for looking out for members of your community," the White House Twitter account wrote. Lawrence is also working on masks that work for people with cochlear implants that go around the ears. 

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

John Krasinski featured Lawrence's masks on his new positive news show.

Krasinski is all about spreading positive news on his recent video series, "Some Good News," on YouTube. The actor has been reporting on all things positive and included Lawrence's masks on his second episode. The episode also featured a reunion from the Hamilton cast, who performed their opening number for a fan who missed out on an opportunity to see the show live.

These masks are going to be a huge help for an entire community of people.

There is already an issue with mask and protective gear shortages across the US and in hospitals, so crafting your own mask is a huge help. Lawrence took it one step further by thinking of a disadvantaged community. Her creativity has created a solution in the medical industry.

Consider donating to Lawrence's mask-making.


The student is donating all of her masks to hospitals and people who need them, and is using her money to create them. Lawrence organized a GoFundMe to help alleviate some of the costs. Currently, she has raised over $3,000. One doctor tweeted Lawrence's GoFundMe link and tweeted, "If you know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and needs face masks, check out this amazing endeavor by a college student."