Alexandra has created a clear face covering to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing communicate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bristol-based workwear company was approached by clients in the healthcare and education sectors to come up with a personal protective equipment (PPE) solution for deaf and hard of hearing patients and students struggling with wearing standard face masks — clear face coverings help them by allowing lip-reading and facial expressions to be interpreted.

Alexandra worked with key suppliers to produce the purpose-designed face coverings, which are breathable, washable and will not mist up when worn.

Nick Reynolds, purchasing and category manager at Alexandra, commented: “We are pleased to now be able to supply clear face coverings because we know they will be a lifeline for the deaf community and anyone who relies on lip reading to communicate.

“As the government continues to extend the settings where face coverings are required, we hope that this project will help deaf people and those they travel with feel safer and more confident in public places.

“We are very grateful to everyone who has worked with us to complete the design and testing process, and we will be supplying the first customers with their orders in the next few weeks.”

Head of policy and research at charity Action on Hearing Loss, Ayla Ozmen, added: “Face coverings present a communication barrier that result in millions of people living with hearing loss feeling even more isolated and anxious at an already difficult time.

“Face coverings with clear panels are helpful for them because they rely heavily on visual cues for effective communication, including facial expressions and lip-reading.”

The new clear face coverings form part of Alexandra’s new range of PPE. The company is currently a Tier One Supplier to the NHS in England, having manufactured several million medical scrub sets for healthcare workers on the Covid-19 frontline, as well as sourcing PPE and other vital equipment.

Nick added: “We have now produced five million face coverings for several different industries including healthcare and hospitality. We expect that demand for PPE will continue to increase and Alexandra is committed to helping people protect themselves for as long as necessary.”

A Tier One Supplier to the NHS in Wales, Alexandra has now also been awarded Tier One status for PPE and praised by the Welsh government for its response to the coronavirus, after transforming its operations to meet unprecedented demand from frontline healthcare workers. The workwear company has been working closely with the Welsh government to coordinate international supply chain networks, as well as source manufacturing capacity for scrubs and PPE in the principality.

Alexandra initially took on furloughed workers at Laura Ashley’s Texplan production capabilities in Newtown to produce around 5,000 scrub sets a week, and has since helped to coordinate a network of SMEs in Wales to ramp up domestic production levels to meet frontline demands across the country. These include Neath-based outdoor survival wear company SURVIVA, which has worked with clinicians at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend to redesign their protective gowns, which is now being manufactured for Alexandra and will be used in NHS hospitals across Wales.

Rebecca Jones, global sales and commercial director at Alexandra, commented: “It has been great to work with innovative and dynamic companies across Wales to ensure that quality products are being made and supplied into Welsh hospitals and healthcare settings.

“Being awarded Tier One Supplier status for PPE is brilliant news, and a testament to the hard work and commitment of every member of the fantastic team we have at Alexandra.”