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San Antonio student starts nonprofit to provide clear face masks for deaf, hard of hearing individuals

14 year-old girl will donate clear masks to Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children

SAN ANTONIO – With face masks here to stay due to COVID-19, a San Antonio girl is determined to increase awareness for the need of clear face masks to make communication accessible for all.

Laylah Votion, 14, started her nonprofit Deaf Ally over the summer. Its first mission is to donate clear masks to the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children.

“We’re getting about 150 (clear) masks for Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf,” Votion said. “Each mask is about $5, so we needed about $750 to complete this.”

Votion was inspired to launch the nonprofit after a course she enrolled in at Young Women’s Leadership Academy on the city’s West Side.

“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 said.

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The purpose behind each mask is to help people realize American Sign Language is not just a language, it’s also a form of expression.

San Antonio student starts non-profit to help Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals through clear mask donations and awareness.
San Antonio student starts non-profit to help Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals through clear mask donations and awareness. (Leylah Votion)

“I think that even though we might not be deaf or hard of hearing, hearing people should also try to make an attempt to be more accommodating for those that (suffer from hearing loss),” Votion said.

Votion is also using her art to appeal to audiences across Instagram. She’s creating and selling digital portraits for an average of $20. Those funds will also benefit the nonprofit.

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

Votion is also using her art to appeal to audiences across Instagram. She’s creating and selling digital portraits for an average of $20. Those funds will go towards the purchase of clear masks.
Votion is also using her art to appeal to audiences across Instagram. She’s creating and selling digital portraits for an average of $20. Those funds will go towards the purchase of clear masks. (Angela Votion)

She’s also selling a bundle of stickers found here.

Votion will make her first order of clear masks in benefit of the Sunshine Cottage School this month and plans to deliver them in the next couple of weeks.

The 14-year-old also wants to expand her giving to include individuals in need and local doctors or audiologists.

For more on Deaf Ally, visit its Instagram page here.


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