Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New medical grade transparent face masks improve communication

A new medical grade transparent face mask is the first of its kind to be clinically safe and support communication for those who have hearing difficulties, cognitive problems and/or learning disabilities. 

The BrillianSee face mask was designed by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, after a speech and language therapist at the hospital reported having difficulties in her speech therapy classes. 

Wendy Blumenow explained that the children in her care had difficulty learning during lessons since they could not see her face.

Transparent masks offer improved communication compared with opaque masks, as you can see the face clearly, allowing for improved reading and interpretation of non-verbal cues.

These features are essential when the person has difficulties such as deafness and other communications issues which mean they need to lip read in order to understand what is being said to them.

After the first BrillanSee face masks were manufactured, Wendy said: “This will make a huge difference to the children in my care– they will finally be able to see my face and benefit from their speech therapy while staying protected from Covid-19”.

46% of Brits believed to lip read as part of everyday communication

Around half of Brits (46%) are believed to lip read as part of everyday communication, with a third saying seeing whole faces makes them feel more comfortable (29%).

A recent 2,000 person survey on face mask wearing found: 26% people believe they miss important information; 23% say they have difficulty understanding when they can’t read lips; and 22% said this was due to being unable to see the whole facial expression.

This is especially important in a healthcare setting, where doctors and nurses may have limited time to relay information to their patients, which is particularly relevant now considering the NHS has recently provided guidance confirming that NHS settings will continue to require healthcare professionals and patients to wear face masks after July 19th.

BrillianSee face masks offer protection comparable to a Type II surgical face masks and are UKCA marked medical devices registered with the MHRA.

Iain Hennessey, Consultant Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon and Clinical Director of the Innovation Hub at Alder Hey said: “This partnership is a great example of what can be achieved when we work collaboratively. We’re delighted with the result.

“BrillianSee gives healthcare professionals and patients a much better experience while keeping them safe. We plan to introduce these masks across the hospital all paediatric departments soon as possible.”

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