Organisations without hearing loop systems for the deaf, could be excluding one in six potential customers. As well as making business sense, being accessible to the 12 million people with some form of hearing loss is also a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland.
When installed correctly, hearing loop technology will open up your business to hearing aid users. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Here’s what to consider and what to avoid.
What to consider
- How many people would use a hearing loop system?
- Has a specific situation prompted you to consider installing a hearing loop? For example, did someone struggle to talk to your receptionist?
- Do you already offer some support for people with hearing loss, such as a public address or speaker system?
- Which areas of your business would benefit from a hearing loop system? This will vary depending on your type of business but should include all customer-facing points.
- How large is each area and what is the level of background noise?
What to avoid
- Don’t engage an installer with no formal training – poorly installed loop systems for the deaf will be less reliable and cost-effective in the long run.
- Don’t install the wrong type of loop – certain types of hearing loop are better suited for some area than others. Seek professional advice.
- Don’t forget about staff training. All users must know how it works, with a clear process in place if a fault is reported.
- Don’t skimp on maintenance – hearing loops should be regularly maintained to stay in good working order.