12 May 2011

High street shops losing the hearing impaired

Many high street shops in the UK do not provide looping systems for people with hearing loss. And among those who do, many are out of order. This may be so in other countries as well.

The British organisation for the hearing impaired, RNID, has investigated more than 1,500 businesses across the UK. They found a shocking lack of loop systems in shops and services.

The RNID survey found that:

  • 86 % of services were inaccessible for hearing aid users
  • 945 out of the 1,518 premises visited did not have a loop fitted at all.
  • Of those 573 businesses surveyed which did have loops, only 38 % of them had loops that were working, switched on and signposted.

Loop systems make it easier for people who use hearing aids to communicate. Loops can, for example, amplify speech over background noise.

Lack of knowledge

RNID member Valerie Privett said:

“Unfortunately many shop staff, despite being helpful, don't know how to check the equipment is working and how to use it. I would appreciate it if shops showed they valued my custom by making their premises more accessible. However, I was impressed with how many were willing to co-operate. Many were interested in receiving further information about loops which was very encouraging.”

In the UK, according to Equality Act 2010, service providers must make “reasonable adjustments” to allow access to people with hearing loss.

Read more about loop systems and telecoils.

Source: One in Seven, Issue 81, 2011

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