Deaf people encouraged to speak up in stores for their ‘right to hear’

To mark Deaf Awareness Week (14th – 21st May 2018), assistive hearing technology specialists Contacta has released advice for deaf people to help ensure the services and venues they use are accessible.

Laid out in a guide, the advice emphasises the rights hearing-impaired people have to access information and what support they should expect in public spaces under building regulations.

The guide also provides practical advice to help people with hearing loss speak out if venues including shops, banks, public building and more do not have a hearing loop or if the loop doesn’t work.

A hearing or ‘induction’ loop amplifies the sounds people want to hear above distracting background noise when they switch their hearing aid to the ‘T’ position.

"Services can’t instantly provide you with a loop but making them aware they have a duty to make their services accessible will alert them to their responsibilities,” states the guide.

"Speaking out could help the next person with a hearing impairment”

The Equality Act 2010 states everyone should be treated equally, suggesting venues, employers, schools and local authorities are among the organisations required to make "reasonable adjustments” to allow hearing impaired people to access their services.

The Act requires service providers, like banks for example, to provide information in an accessible format to everyone, so a hearing loop at a banking counter would be a "reasonable adjustment.”

Andrew Thomas of Contacta, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector said: "Two million people in the UK wear a hearing aid but that doesn’t automatically mean they can fully enjoy being part of everyday activities. They are reliant on shops, cinemas, public buildings and other venues having a hearing loop available – and one that works.

"We released this guide because we want to emphasise to people that they have a right to hear and a right to have access to information, employment and entertainment. Not being able to hear in these situations can leave deaf people at a disadvantage as well as feeling frustrated and isolated.

Over the last 48 years, Contacta has installed hundreds of thousands of hearing loops to benefit customers at a number of high street retailers, as well as bus and rail stations, theatres and entertainment venues.

Andrew added: "People with hearing loss are the largest disabled group in the UK and we want to help them have the confidence to know their rights and to ask for what they need.”

Deaf Awareness Week is an annual event aiming to raise awareness of deafness and the challenges faced by the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss.

To view the guide, click HERE