It can be difficult to communicate with face masks on, but for the deaf community it can be particularly challenging.
A Thousand Oaks teenager is now spending her time making face masks designed to make it easier for those hard of hearing to read lips. Seventeen-year-old Isabella Appell is making face masks with a clear vinyl center to allow people to read the lips of the person speaking.
Appell, who has a family friend who is deaf, learned American Sign Language online and wants to teach it to others. She said her heart breaks for the hearing impaired who are struggling right now.
"Over the span of this quarantine I noticed people posting about how hard it is to communicate and during this time I was already sewing regular masks so I started researching how I could accommodate them to everybody," said Appell.
Appell said anyone can order one of her masks and all the money goes to the Hearing Aid Project, which provides free hearing aids to those who can't afford them.
The director of the non-profit organization said they were surprised to get help from a teenager during the crisis but they are extremely grateful.
"It can be a really scary thing to be someone who is deaf and communicates primarily through lip reading.. to suddenly be thrust into a situation where you can't communicate with anyone," said Aaron Ensminger, executive director of the Hearing Aid Project. "So to be able to see that and empathize and create a solution is really amazing."
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Appell said using her time in isolation to be of service to others is helping her feel a sense of connection she was missing.
"As of right now I've reached out to so many people and it's created this sense of community - it's so cool - it makes me feel so involved," said Appell.
If you would like to donate or get a mask visit Talking Masks website.