Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month occurs each March and brings attention to the ways in which people with and without disabilities unite and highlights the barriers that people with disabilities continue to face in society.
Developmental disabilities are defined as impairments in physical, learning, language or behaviour areas.
In recognition of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March, Helloface are going to be exploring how their transparent face masks increase inclusion in society.
What are transparent face masks
Where regular, opaque face masks cover the lower half of the user’s face, and in turn block the ability to lipread, transparent face masks do quite the opposite.
Transparent face masks allow visibility of the whole face, making lipreading possible. Clear masks support the communication between the mask wearer and others around them.
For those who require visibility of the whole face to interact and communicate, such as people with developmental disabilities, opaque face masks can be challenging.
At the height of the pandemic, Design Abled recognised that the common, opaque face masks were not fit for purpose.
When his partially hearing wife, Aimee, visited the hospital and found it impossible to interact with the doctors wearing their PPE, Dean Ezekiel acknowledged that this had to change. As a result, Dean and the team at Helloface designed and produced their own range of certified, transparent face masks.
With a completely transparent face mask body, allowing visibility of the entire face, Helloface masks allow lipreading to take place and are compatible with facial recognition technology. Unlike opaque face coverings and clear window masks, Helloface masks offer the unique ability to see the whole face, making it possible to read lips and understand facial expressions.
Why wear a transparent face mask?
Transparent face masks make it possible to read lips, a common and often relied-upon form of communication frequently used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
According to Autism West Midlands, opaque face masks pose difficulties to communication to those with autism.
They said, “There are also challenges to social communication, as reading facial expressions under a face mask is more difficult than usual. With most of the face covered, the eyes become the focus, making it even harder for those who struggle with eye contact.”
Furthermore, fabric face masks have the effect of obscuring speech which makes it difficult for people, especially those with hearing loss, to understand what is being said. In noisy environments, this difficulty is intensified further.
The National Deaf Children’s Society say that masks make it “harder for deaf children and young people to make us of any residual hearing they have. They therefore present specific challenges for deaf children and young people”.
Despite the relaxation of mask-wearing rules across England, many industries will continue to wear face masks including those working in healthcare and onboard flights. For people with developmental disabilities who struggle with being surrounded by masked wearers, this still remains an issue.
How do Transparent Face Masks Increase Inclusion in Society?
Transparent masks increase inclusion in society by not debilitating any member. By allowing lipreading to take place, people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are not being subject to exclusion and stripped of their independence when communicating with others around them.
Organisations across the UK have launched campaigns to raise awareness of the accessibility issue in relation to wearing face masks. Barnwood Trust based in Gloucestershire launched their Let’s Be Clear campaign to support the widespread use of clear face masks to reduce communication barriers.
Many companies have had innovative, design-led attitudes to clear face masks. Helloface took a dynamic approach when designing their transparent masks by producing a range of masks unlike any other on the market.
When asked about their route to market, Helloface director Dean Ezekiel said, “We could have done things much easier, much quicker, but we would have created a certified product that doesn't solve the problem of full facial recognition”.
Unlike any other clear face mask on the market, Helloface masks are fully certified, recyclable, completely transparent and uniquely compatible with facial recognition technology.
To learn more about Helloface masks and how they can improve accessibility in your business, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org