Deaf people are being encouraged to speak to venues and services to make sure they are accessible and have working hearing loops installed.
The advice laid out in a guide to mark Deaf Awareness Week emphasises the rights hearing-impaired people have to access information and services under the law and what hearing support they should expect in public spaces under building regulations.
The guide, produced by assistive hearing technology specialists Contacta, also provides practical advice to help people with hearing loss speak out if venues such as banks, shops, public buildings, universities and theatres don’t have a hearing loop, or 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”.
Contacta has, over the last 48 years, installed hundreds of thousands of hearing loops to benefit customers at a number of high street banks and retailers as well as bus and rail stations, theatres and entertainment venues.
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.
“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.”