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San Antonio Teen Raises Funds to Provide Clear Face Masks to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals 

  • Instagram / deaf_ally
Face masks, 2020's new mandatory accessory, have proven to be a stumbling block for the deaf and hard of hearing community, who rely on the ability to read lips and facial expressions to communicate.

However, a local student is looking to change that.

Inspired by an ASL class, Layla Votion, 14, launched the nonprofit Deaf Ally to provide masks with clear windows to the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children.

“I learned in my ASL class that people that are deaf or hard of hearing need to read lips or facial expressions so they can understand better [and] communicate with those who are hearing,” Votion, a rising sophomore at the Young Women's Leadership Academy, told KSAT.

Sponsored by Summer of Service San Antonio's Make It Happen Initiative, Deaf Ally originally set out to donate 150 clear masks to Sunshine Cottage. Each mask is about $5, so the nonprofit needed to raise $750 to reach its goal.

To collect the money, Votion began selling digital portraits on her Etsy shop Hermosas Mariposas. She's also selling stickers and launched a GoFundMe.

Deaf Ally soon surpassed its original goal, raising $1,030 on GoFundMe alone.

“I think that the portraits I’ve been making have been helping people to connect [to the cause],” Votion told KSAT. “I think art really helps people to understand better because you can do infographics and things like that with facts.”

Votion plans to deliver her first order of masks in the next couple of weeks. In the future, she hopes to donate masks to local doctors and audiologists, as well as other individuals in need.

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