Bethlehem Designer Creates Masks for the Deaf Community

Written by on August 5, 2020

Bethlehem Designer Creates Masks for the Deaf Community

By Tracy Yatsko

August 5, 2020

Photo | Tracy Yatsko / WLVR

A local designer is creating masks for the deaf community. The mask has clear plastic around the mouth to help people who communicate by reading lips. 

Shelby Lawson of Lawson Accessories was sewing regular cotton masks one night with her friend Deborah Hines, a sign language interpreter. They talked about the challenges the deaf community faces with having a crucial method of communication covered.

Photo | Tracy Yatsko / WLVR

“With the mask covering our nose and our mouth, it’s difficult for the deaf person that depends on lip-reading in addition to speaking with hands to actually see your mouth moving, many of them depend on facial gestures,” said Lawson.

Lawson says her journey to find the right plastic has been tough. She says vinyl is too flexible and other plastics are too stiff. Her solution came from a dream one night, clear, plastic soda bottles. 

“I have to use heavy duty needles to penetrate the plastic. I have to go a lot slower than I normally do so each mask takes a little longer, which I’m okay with that. As long as the end product comes out fantastic.”

Lawson says she’s close to perfecting the masks to make them comfortable and affordable.

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