Helloface was established in July 2020 in response to the ongoing inequalities caused as a result of opaque masks. Throughout the pandemic, mask wearing became necessary, especially within healthcare and medical settings. For people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, have learning, developmental or mental challenges, or work in a noisy environment, the introduction of masks were met with feelings of anxiety.
Opaque masks block all vital non-verbal communication cues including lip movements and facial expressions. For some groups in society, these are imperative methods that are used to interact with others effectively. Commonly, face coverings also hindered speech, making it seem muffled. These factors made it increasingly difficult for the mentioned groups to communicate, resulting in isolation. For those working in industries such as retail, face masks were at risk of causing potentially disastrous miscommunication errors.
In recognition of this, Design Abled Ltd created Helloface, their own range of transparent face masks. With the sole focus of providing eco-friendly safety, while also removing communication barriers between wearers and others around them. Intending to change the lives of over 11 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people and over 1.5 million NHS healthcare staff members across the UK, Helloface masks are designed to improve the lives of, and help people function better physically, mentally and socially.
In order to fully solve the communication problems that had arisen, Design Abled carefully curated their Helloface masks in order to offer the best transparent face mask on the market, not necessarily the first.
Below are the five top reasons why Helloface differs from all other masks on the market.
Compatible with facial recognition technology (including Apple’s Face ID!), Helloface masks are completely transparent, allowing visibility of the entire face. This makes it possible to see and understand the user’s facial expressions, and also permits the ability to lipread. A study conducted by the Jama Network looked into the effect of clear and covered masks on communication between a surgeon and patient. The research concluded that patients much preferred seeing their surgeons face as it built trust and provided a better interaction experience.
Compared to a transparent window mask that only allows visibility of the lips, Helloface masks do not obscure facial expressions in any way.
The Helloface Transparent Medical Mask is CE/UKCA marked, and therefore approved for use in healthcare and medical settings. This allows Design Abled to supply to hospitals, doctors surgeries, care homes, dental settings and more. Opening up a range of opportunities, implementing clear face masks in these environments will ultimately create an inclusive atmosphere for all patients and staff.
When their flagship product, the Helloface Clear Shield, was launched back in 2020, Design Abled received helpful feedback regarding elements of the mask. They took this feedback onboard and made significant improvements to the body of the mask which ultimately led to the creation of their Transparent Medical Mask.
One of the major improvements Design Abled made was the anti-fog material. On previous prototypes, they found that fogging occurred after time and was not permanent. After working with a fantastic team of designers and lab specialists, they have developed a process that prevents mist forming on the surface of our material when breathed on.
With the certified anti-fog, the user can rest assured that speaking and breathing will not inhibit the transparency of the face mask.
Complete with flexible and soft ear loop straps, Helloface’s Transparent Medical Mask fits almost all head shapes and sizes. Where conventional and commonly seen blue, fabric surgical masks often fit loosely, the Transparent Medical Mask ear loop straps can be adjusted accordingly by pulling the loop through the nodules.
When receiving feedback from deaf and hard-of-hearing charities and individuals after the release of their flagship clear face shield, an important point that was raised was the comfort and security of hearing aids. To ensure hearing aids were not budged out of place and sat comfortably, Design Abled optimised the straps by making them thinner, softer and looped around the ear instead of around the head.
The ergonomic design of the face mask body itself allows the comfortable fit of glasses, goggles and other items of PPE. As the mask is sealed to your face, glasses don’t fog up (no, really!).
As a sustainable business, Design Abled recognise that they have a social responsibility to preserve the environment. In order to not add to the growing PPE waste, they ensure a fully eco-friendly supply chain; from ethically sourcing recyclable materials to partnering with the end-organisation to ensure masks do not end up in landfill.
In November 2021, Design Abled's work on Helloface transparent masks and creating sustainable PPE during the pandemic was awarded the UK Government's SME Business ‘Hero of Net Zero’ at COP26 in Glasgow.
Dean Ezekiel, Director of Innovation and Sustainability said "Our team is very proud to be recognised by the UK government and the Business Climate Hub for our sustainable business decisions and our commitment to becoming net zero by 2030. We hope this inspires more businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and put planet before profits for the future generations''.
Approaching next month, the Helloface team will be taking part in a range of activities to support Global Recycling Day.
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