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‘I was super excited’: EPCC students make clear face masks to help deaf community

Ricardo Melendez
KVIA
Ricardo Melendez holding his clear face mask.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Just a few months ago, it would've seemed strange to see someone walking around with a face mask.

Now, it's the new normal. While the goal of these masks is to slow the spread of coronavirus, these coverings have also made communicating harder for those who identify as deaf.

"It’s really hard for us to communicate with the mask and it’s hard for us to be taking it on and off again and again and again," Ricardo Menendez told ABC-7 through an interpreter.

That's why Menendez was ecstatic when he received a clear face mask from students at EPCC's Social Work Club.

People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.

"They are very thankful," EPCC student Gloria Vidal said. "I've had people from Austin, San Antonio and California reaching out and asking if we can mail them some face masks.”

Vidal came up with the idea of making clear masks after seeing a post about them on social media. She and her classmates have sewn more than 70 masks already.

The group's faculty advisor, Christian Salas, said he's proud of his students for coming up with the idea.

“Now that we have this new normal, being able to communicate at any level is important," Salas said.

The students are using the club's funds to make the masks, and are giving them away for free. They rely on donations to purchase the materials necessary for making the masks.

Anyone who's interested in getting a mask, donating the club, or learning how to make one for themselves can contact the EPCC Social Work Club on Facebook or by calling Gloria Vidal at (915) 831-2469.

Mauricio Casillas

El Paso native Mauricio Casillas co-anchors ABC-7’s Good Morning El Paso.

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