A week to spur some action

rampThe good thing about ramps, is that you can see them if they are there and most of us are capabable of working out if a ramp is steeper than what we have seen elsewhere and also if its design is deeply flawed like the one in the photo. When it comes to equal access, there are still many factors including ignorance to deal with but ensuring that our public buildings are designed to enable visitors with mobility issues to enter seems to be largely won, or at least winnable. The same cannot be said for hidden issues such as hearing loops, or more accurately Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems. Persuading people who design, build and fit out buildings that they need to give more than cursory consideration to how some of their decisions could potentially prevent visitors who rely on hearing aids from benefiting from the loops they have been asked to fit sometimes feels like pulling teeth. In a new building my company recently worked on, the desks in the reception area were changed from a one person reception counter to a two person counter that seems to be manned by 4 people at least some of the time. The new desk is now larger than the original one fitted and its construction means that the one loop requested will no longer be adequate if the visitors are to hear from the people who are manning the desk. However the only people who will be aware of this impact are the visitors who rely on hearing aids. Because this sort of example is a common occurrence the people who could potentially benefit most from the provision that we all pay for, are left frustrated and in the end, many of them put up with a service that does not meet their needs. Many people with hearing aids have never heard anything effective from a well fitted hearing loop, simply because they assume that all of them are useless and they don’t bother activating their hearing aids when they see the sign. Thankfully there are some groups of people around the country who are beginning to kick back at the organisations that should know better. One man in Brighton is writing to all public sector bodies threatening them with legal action if they don’t improve the quality of their loop systems. There are other people who are adopting slightly less confrontational approaches. This week is Deaf Awareness week a few days when all of us could make a difference in a number of ways, the Action on Hearing Loss and Hearing Link websites offer a number of very practical suggestions. Meanwhile my colleagues and I will continue to try to make sense of the conflicting plans and actions of various construction professionals who frankly should know better.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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