Kansas Announces Visible PPE Distribution Program

October 29, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson

TOPEKA, Kan. –Today, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced that the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in collaboration with the Kansas Department for Children and Families, is making visible personal protective equipment available to deaf and hard of hearing individuals, their family members, and to personal caretakers. The visible PPE will only be made available to those in the state of Kansas. 

Kelly said in a public statement, “Since the pandemic began, my administration has prioritized ensuring that all Kansans have access to the resources they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and stay healthy. 

“I commend the Department of Children and Families and the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for making this program available to those who need it, and I encourage all eligible Kansans to apply.” 

Funding for the visible PPE distribution program was made possible through the CARES Act. The KCDHH has spent $250,000 for the visible PPE in the program. The funding was originally reserved for the distribution program by the Kansas SPARKS Task Force, the state’s COVID-19 recovery office.  

The visible PPE program provides Kansans with the option of obtaining face shields or clear/smile masks in either an adult or child size. All visible PPE’s are made with see-through materials to allow for lip-reading and non-verbal facial expressions. 

“This visible PPE program fulfills a need of deaf and hard of hearing Kansans,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, with masks being essential for all individuals, making visible PPE available, affordable and accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community is imperative.” 

“Deaf and hard of hearing individuals rely on full facial expression and especially lips movement to get the full meaning of other people’s expressed messages,” Robert Cooper, KCDHH executive director, said. “Visible PPE is crucial to ensure successful communication with deaf and hard of hearing individuals.” 

Cooper estimates that 50,000 Kansans will be eligible to receive visible PPE under the state program.  

For those seeking visible PPE, individuals can fill out an online form to request up to two PPE items. Households are limited to four face shields and/or 10 total PPE items.  

Distribution for PPE items are a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Individuals receiving PPE items can expect to wait two to four weeks for processing and/or distribution from the program. 

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