IM this article to a friend!

November 30, 2004

Deaf people 'overwhelmingly' failed by UK arts attractions

From: Leisure Opportunities Daily News - UK - Nov 30, 2004

A new survey of UK arts attractions across the UK has found that the majority are failing their deaf and hard of hearing customers with 'an overwhelmingly endless catalogue of patchy access'.

The survey was conducted by profoundly deaf mystery shoppers on behalf of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID), and found that out of 75 venues, only seven were found to be deaf aware.

Eighty per cent of the surveyed venues didn't have a textphone/minicom service to allow a deaf person to contact them for bookings or advance information, while 50 per cent hadn't fitted an induction loop. Of the 39 per cent that had fitted an induction loop, many failed to publicise it.

Most venues – 65 per cent – also lacked published information on how people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people, could gain access to their site.

However, the RNID drew particular attention to three attractions for their excellence. These were the National Theatre, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery – all situated in London and all of which boasted deaf-aware staff.

The RNID is now calling for three main changes to be made to attractions – that all staff in arts venues around the UK receive deaf awareness training; that all access equipment is well displayed and the staff are trained to use it and that all arts venues compile an access guide, giving precise details of the provisions available for disabled people.

Mark Morris, head of the RNID's Access to Arts campaign, said: "There is still much ignorance among arts venues about how to include deaf and hard of hearing people.

"The modifications now required by law, under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), are simple, affordable and achievable. Yet many centres are failing to meet these obligations.

"When you consider that one in seven people have some degree of hearing loss, it doesn't make business sense that arts venues are failing to capture the custom of deaf and hard of hearing people."

The survey was carried out at venues in Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Manchester between August and September this year.

The deadline for businesses and service providers to be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act was 1 October. Details:

© 2004 The Leisure Media Company