It is current law in England to wear a face covering in the following indoor settings (unless you are exempt): public transport, shops, supermarkets, hospitality locations and more.
The introduction of face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic has posed many new difficulties to the 11 million people across the UK who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who have mental, learning or developmental challenges.
A poll conducted YouGov and reported by the National Deaf Children’s Society
found that 89% of the public struggle to understand somebody wearing a face mask, and just 23% admitted to knowing how to communicate effectively with deaf people whilst wearing a face covering.
Shielding the mouth and part of the face causes problems for those who rely on lipreading and recognising facial movements and expressions to communicate. Muffling the sound of voices is another consequence of wearing a face mask, reducing the clarity and volume, making the user harder to understand.
It can be argued that this issue is something that silently goes under the radar, though this does not take away from the importance of finding a safe solution for those who are feeling excluded and forgotten about. Enabling public spaces to be a safe and inclusive place for all is a problem still in the pipeline in which brands are currently trying to solve.
An article from the Worthing Herald
in December 2020 outlined just the reason why finding a solution for the communication issue with fabric face masks is so important.
Profoundly deaf, 12-year-old Austin Goddard wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for clear face masks to be readily introduced across the UK as he was finding it extremely difficult to communicate with his taxi driver on his way to school.
See-through face masks are slowly rising in popularity as more and more people are becoming aware of their existence. Differing from opaque, fabric masks, transparent face coverings and shields make it possible to see your mouth and facial movements.
These face coverings offer a solution to the lack of communication through opaque face masks, making the entire face visible and enabling individuals to read lips and see facial movements and expressions. However, it is important that these masks do not fog up and therefore eliminate the purpose of them, posing a challenge for manufacturers.
Essentially, transparent face masks would be useless if not for an anti-fog solution, preventing the mask from fogging up when the user breaths. Ranging from anti-fog additives within the material to anti-fog sprays and wipes, many brands are experimenting with different solutions until they find one that works for them.
manufacture a completely transparent, adjustable and recyclable face mask. They have conducted extensive research and development with various anti-fog options to ensure the complete visibility of the mouth area, enabling ease of lipreading and facial expressions.
The niche that brands like Helloface are trying to fill is not covered by current standards, therefore before being granted a stamp of approval, they have to undergo many tests and trials to ensure the inclusive masks are safe and fit for use.
Helloface incorporates Biomaster antimicrobial technology, trusted by many household names including Dyson, Asda and Tesco, to name but a few.
Biomaster inhibits the growth of surface microbes 24/7 and is effective for the lifetime of the product.
You can read more about the benefits of Biomaster on the website: https://www.addmaster.co.uk."
Further tests transparent face masks need to undergo in order to become certified are to ensure that they are inhalation resistant and liquid penetration resistant, also making sure that they are breathable.
Helloface masks underwent tests that were performed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in response to providing a face covering solution for people who have communication problems as a result of face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NPL tests were bespoke, to replicate the tests carried out by notified bodies, as there are no current standards for such innovations.
The NPL looked at the inhalation resistance and liquid penetration resistance of the face covering. The tests were conducted under the NPL’s Measurement for Recovering (M4R) programme, set up to support UK industries and provides access to facilities and expertise. Helloface was tested with EN 149 8.9.3 Inhalation Resistance and ISO 22609 Liquid Penetration Resistance, comparable to Type IIR masks.
While these brands, including Helloface, understand that nobody likes wearing masks, they are simply trying to solve the problem of the lack of communication that affects millions of people across the UK. Every day, suppliers and manufacturers are working hard to offer assurances and bring you a safe, comfortable see-through face mask.