Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bristol, England, least accessible UK city for people with hearing impairments

From Insider Media:

Bristol is the least accessible city for in UK for customers with hearing loss, according to research carried out by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).

The charity taking action on hearing loss found 97 per cent of surveyed businesses in the city were inaccessible for hearing aid users because they don't have fully working induction loops – the worst level of provision of 17 locations surveyed across the UK.

Only three of 91 surveyed businesses in Bristol had fully operational induction loops – equipment used by two million people in the UK who wear hearing aids.

RNID's chief executive Jackie Ballard said: "Christmas shopping is stressful enough for anyone, but for people in Bristol who wear hearing aids, buying something as simple as a box of chocolates or book can be impossible at this time of year. Retailers will be concerned to learn that, by not providing a full working induction loop, they are failing shoppers who are deaf or hard of hearing and putting themselves at risk of legal action under the Equality Act 2010."

Richard Scullard, a hearing aid user from Stoke Bishop, said: "I choose to buy Christmas gifts from shops, which I know from experience have working induction loops to help me hear what customer services are saying. Without loops, I struggle to follow their conversations – particularly when there is a lot of music being played in the background, and that happens quite a lot at this time of year."

According to the Equality Act 2010, shops should ensure that customers with a hearing loss do not receive a worse service and induction loops are a 'reasonable adjustment' because they help hearing aid users by amplifying speech over background noise.

RNID staff visited 1,518 businesses in 17 locations throughout the UK including Bristol, London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Swansea, Belfast and Dundee.