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Inclusive masks: from a local initiative to a worldwide success story

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The use of masks has increased by 250% since the beginning of the coronavirus. This gave ideas to innovators.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the mask demand has rapidly increased making it difficult for individuals to have access to this basic equipment. Usually reserved for health workers, masks have been widely used for the past weeks. The democratisation of face masks until now inspired individuals to create their own masks with different styles and shapes. It also inspired individuals such as Ashley Lawrence to innovate and propose inclusive solutions.

Ashley Lawrence, 21 years old and college student at Kentucky University, envisage to become a deaf educator. While she watched the news with hundred of individuals wearing masks, she quickly understood that this new habit could be a limitation for deaf people to communicate and understand emotions. Used to read on the lips of others, citizens impacted by hearing loss or deafness are in need to see others’ face to analyse emotions.

Ashley mentioned, “Facial expressions are very important for sign language as it is part of the grammar for deaf people”. Interviewed by Fox47, the young student insisted on the importance of emotions for hard of hearing individuals allowing them to fully perceive others’ messages.

After discussing the idea with her mom, the two family embers started the first mask prototypes. Starting from bed sheets and transparent materials, Ashley started sharing her work on social media which helped her spread the idea inspiring others to sew inclusive masks. Contacted by several individuals living in the United States, Ashley decided to ship these masks for free. Nevertheless, donations are accepted by Ashley in order to buy raw materials and ship the masks.

This creative initiative is an example of the solidarity movement that started around the world during the lockdown. Individuals’ humanity and kindness have been unveiled to the world showing us the best examples of human kindness.

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