NHS staff in Scotland will begin to use new transparent face masks this month to help with lip reading.
The masks have been approved for use in health and social care settings and are designed to help patients with communication needs.
They were made by Dumfriesshire-based PPE supplier Alpha Solway.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Although face masks are essential to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it can cause difficulties for people who rely on lip reading, or have other communication needs.
“Patients and staff have rightly been calling for an alternative to the usual surgical face masks in clinical settings, so I am pleased NHS Scotland is rolling out these new, innovative transparent masks.
“These masks mean staff and patients can communicate clearly while staying safe.”
Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, welcomed the move.
She said: “We’ve been calling for the introduction of transparent face masks since early on in the pandemic.
“So we’re delighted to hear that the Scottish Government has announced that it has approved the use of clinically safe, transparent face masks in health and social care settings in Scotland.
“Many people with communication needs will benefit from their introduction as the masks will help address the challenges they may face interacting with others and provide access to health and social care on an equal footing.”
Mike Hobday, of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Transparent face masks will be an absolute game-changer for deaf children, young people and adults alike because almost all of them rely on lip reading and facial expressions.
“They will now be able to understand the health and social care professionals they meet much more easily, receiving crucial information in a way that works for them.
“What’s really important now is that clear face masks are made available across Scotland, not just in health and social care settings but in schools, colleges and everyday life too.
“Deaf people have been hit hard by the pandemic and it would provide a welcome boost whenever they met someone who was wearing one.”
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