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November 15, 2003

Deaf woman's anger over concert

From: BBC News, UK - Nov 15, 2003

A woman with hearing difficulties has complained after a compere ignored her request to use a special microphone that would have helped her enjoy a church concert.

Beti Watson, 88, attended the concert in Llandudno's Trinity Church in July because the church has a loop system which would help her hear the sound of the choir.

She has complained to the Disability Rights Commissioner after the compere did not switch to the loop system.

Mrs Watson said that, despite apologies from the church and the choir involved, she wanted to bring the matter to public attention to highlight problems encountered by people with deafness.

Mrs Watson, from Ruthin, said that the loop system was not used during the first half of the performance, so she made a request for it to be used for the remainder of the performance.

But she was shocked when the compere used the loop system to say to the audience "Hello, can you hear me mother?" before discarding the microphone.

Mrs Watson said that the compere then raised his voice and asked the audience if they could hear him.

"I could not answer because I did not hear him," she said.

Mrs Watson said she was upset and angry, and contacted her MP Clwyd West Gareth Thomas and the Disability Rights Commissioner to complain.

"This is a real problem which deserves to be taken seriously," she said.

She has since received an apology from the church and the choir.

Mrs Watson said she believed that some people did not appreciate the problems that deafness caused.

"I feel from the bottom of my heart that the public generally need to be education, particularly with new laws coming in shortly," she said.

MP Gareth Thomas said: "This case highlights the question of the way in which we treat disabled individuals.

"Those with disabilities face massive discrimination and exclusion in all walks of life," he added.

A choir spokesman offered sincere apologies if any offence had been caused.