We were contacted by Shurdington Community Centre (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) in March 2020 to provide a hearing loop quote. The lack of support for deaf people and those with hearing loss was affecting their service users. Chris Allen, Trustee, said: “Too many told us that lectures, film shows and general gatherings were hampered by an inability to hear all that was happening. The pre-school that runs in the centre also wished to have facilities for any children with hearing needs.”
Finding the best solution
During the initial enquiry, RNID took a consultative approach to find out whether what they were asking for was the best solution for their requirements. We posed lots of questions to find out how, when and why they would use an induction loop, including:
- What is the location like?
- What activities take place there?
- Is the room layout always the same or does it change depending on use?
- Is there anything in the room that may affect the system’s performance?
- What are the room dimensions?
We established that the Community Centre has two main halls with a separate link room that connects them. Visitors with hearing loss were struggling to hear in the large, high-ceilinged building.
Friendly, informative and clear
After the initial enquiry, RNID technical services liaised with the Community Centre trustees to confirm their exact requirements. We took into account the likely needs of the service users along with the strengths and limitations that any proposed solutions would present. With this information we were able to ensure the organisation was making an informed decision regarding accessibility.
Trustee, Chris Allen, told us they had contacted RNID as an “acknowledged authority on the subject” and that the consultation was “friendly, informative and clear – there was a real attempt to listen to and understand the site’s needs.”
Site survey and recommendations
A detailed site survey of the three rooms was conducted in December 2020 to take all the necessary technical data and provide costs. Our installation partner was also able to highlight any considerations, while in person at the site, which had not been identified during the initial telephone and email discussions.
Perimeter induction loops were recommended as the best solution. As the name suggests, a cable is laid around the perimeter of each room. The system works when a person’s hearing aids are switched to the hearing loop setting. Sound goes directly to their hearing aids with no distracting background noise.
Once funding was in place, RNID was given the go ahead to install the hearing loop system in April 2021. Two engineers fitted the perimeter loops over three days following strict Covid-19 safety measures. Due to the nature of perimeter loops, the engineers explained the potential overspill and signal deviation that this type of system creates.
Through careful planning and design, using software simulations to predict induction loop behaviour, they were able to ensure that expectations regarding performance were managed and achieved. Chris Allen described the process as “efficient and tidy – the installers clearly explained the facility once installed.”
In order to keep the perimeter loops in full working order, the trustees have expressed interest in having the system professionally maintained by our engineers once a year. They are also hoping to update the centre’s audio/visual equipment and the installers discussed including the loop within the new equipment. All that will be needed is an appropriate audio connection which can be determined when the audio equipment is purchased. No additional installation work will be required.
Fully accessible and inclusive
Shurdington Community Centre is now fully accessible to hearing aid users. Chris Allen said: “All three areas now have loops as they are often hired out separately. There is now a hearing loop available for every event.” As the halls are currently closed due to Covid-19, there is no feedback yet available.
However, Chris strongly recommends hearing loops to other community centres “for the inclusivity that is offered” and is looking forward to seeing “the delight on people’s faces when they no longer struggle to hear.”
Shurdington Community Centre is ready to welcome hearing aid users