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February 14, 2004

Airport's innovation for deaf

From: ic - Birmingham,UK - Feb 14, 2004

Birmingham Post

Birmingham International Airport has become the first in the UK to introduce an innovative alerter system for passengers, visitors and staff who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The £22,000 Deaf Alerter system notifies the user via a small hand-held unit, known as an alerter, in the event of a fire alarm situation.

Permanently connected to the airport's fire alarm system, Deaf Alerter responds immediately to an alarm activation and transmits a message simultaneously to each alerter.

Once triggered, the alerter will vibrate and flash to attract the wearer's attention and will continue until the person is outside the building.

It is anticipated that in the future the system will be programmed to provide flight and boarding information.

Cathy Hill, general manager of customer services for BIA, said: "This initiative demonstrates our commitment to making BIA safer and more accessible for people with disabilities.

"Over the years we have invested in a number of facilities to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing people, including textphones, a minicom system and induction loops. Furthermore, a number of our employees have learnt the art of sign language to help to communicate with our passengers and ease their journey."

She added: "I'm so happy that we can now provide this new system, which will ultimately give our deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers and our employees more freedom and confidence whilst they are at Birmingham Airport."

Bryan Sheppard, chief executive of BID Services with Deaf People in Birmingham, praised the airport for its commitment to helping deaf and hard of hearing people.

"BIA has constantly been at the forefront of ensuring equality for deaf people with disabilities - being the first airport in the UK to introduce this system proves this commitment."

Deaf Alerter's technical director, Martyn Coldicott, added: "Deaf Alerter is delighted to have been able to assist BIA in their efforts to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, by making their services accessible to deaf passengers."

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