New face covering helps with lipreading

The transparent panel in the face mask means that the speaker's lips can be seen.

Transport for Wales (TfW) is adopting a new design of face covering to assist customers who need to see lips moving to help them understand.

The new face coverings, which are bring provided for front line workers across Transport for Wales’ network, include a transparent window, so customers can see what they are saying.

TfW has ordered 2,000 of the face coverings, which are being distributed to railway station and train crew staff. This move addresses concerns from the charity and community sectors over the barrier to communication that face coverings have.

The solution was developed by Trevor Palmer, who is a member of Transport for Wales’ Accessibility and Inclusion panel. He also runs GL 100 Services, a company in Newport making masks for the NHS.

Dr Robert Gravelle, TfW.

Dr Robert Gravelle, accessibility and inclusion manager for Transport for Wales, explained that charities and other community groups had been stressing the importance of visual clues for effective communication: “We all know just how important it is to wear a face covering right now, but, equally, many of our customers experience hearing loss, use British sign Language and generally rely on visual clues when travelling with us.

“So, when Trevor from our Accessibility and Inclusion Panel suggested the windowed face covering, we jumped at the chance to develop it.

“The design won the endorsement of our panel and we are delighted to be rolling it out across our front-line teams.”

The GL 100 windowed face covering has clear advantages and benefits for staff when interacting with all communities, not just the disabled and hard of hearing.

Manufactured in Newport, the mask addresses Equalities Act and HSAWR considerations and complies with ISO9001. Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group and Office for Road and Rail have also expressed an interest in the product and are purchasing for their staff nationally.

Trevor Palmer, GL 100 Services.

Trevor Palmer, the Accessiblity and Inclusion Panel member who created the mask, said: “Wearing a face covering is an important tool in the fight against Covid 19, but as we all know they are not that easy to communicate through.

“That’s why I came up and started manufacturing with the windowed face mask which shows a person’s facial expression and aids lip reading.

“So, to provide these windowed face masks and help keep safe not only NHS front line staff, but also other front-line workers, is a genuine success and pleasure.”

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