Europe Apr 11, 2013
National tourist board VisitEngland has joined forces with UK charity Action on Hearing Loss (ACL) to launch Listen Up! – a new guide for tourism businesses. Designed to help businesses become more accessible for customers with hearing disabilities, the free resource is available online at www.visitengland.org/access.
More than 10 million people in the UK (one-sixth of the population) have some form of hearing disabilities, and Listen Up! is packed with information, advice and examples of best practice for providing these customers with a warm welcome and an excellent visitor experience. It also highlights key issues for business owners when accommodating deaf or hard of hearing visitors, including:
• Safety – How to put adequate evacuation procedures in place to alert guests with hearing disabilities in case of an emergency.
• Communication – Advice for staff when speaking to someone with hearing disabilities, and information on disability awareness and sign language training courses.
• Facilities – Information on equipment that can assist guests with hearing loss (available at www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/visitengland), such as hearing loops and text phones, as well as advice on completing an Access Statement – a written description of a venue’s facilities and services, to inform people with access needs.
This new guide adds to a wealth of free tools and resources VisitEngland has developed with a range of partners to help attractions, accommodation operators and other tourism business across England offer the best possible experience to visitors with disabilities. The national tourist board has also released a series of short videos highlighting the experiences of guests who are deaf when staying in hotels in England. The videos are designed to alert business owners to a range of issues affecting deaf guests, from wake up calls to ordering room service. They can be found on the VisitEnglandBiz YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/VisitEnglandBiz .
As well as partnering with VisitEngland to produce Listen Up!, Action on Hearing Loss also recently assisted the national tourist board in offering hearing loop testing to quality assured attractions as an extra part of their annual VAQAS (Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme) assessment.
Ross Calladine, VisitEngland’s Head of Business Support, said:
“Visitors who have a health condition or disability – and their companions – spend over £2billion a year in England, so it is vital that we integrate the needs of visitors with physical and sensory access requirements into our everyday service provision. Listen Up! is designed to help tourism businesses become more aware about deaf community and attract even more of these loyal and valuable customers, and Action on Hearing Loss is the ideal partner for this project.”
Chief Executive of AHL, Paul Breckell, says: “People with hearing disabilities are a significant force in the economy, travelling both for business and pleasure. We are delighted to be working with Visit England to publish the Listen Up! guide. It will help tourism businesses improve the accessibility of their services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, invest in hearing disability support and generate more income.”
For more information, visit www.visitengland.org/access,