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November 9, 2004

Survey pinpoints city's shortfalls for deaf

From: Belfast Telegraph, UK - Nov 9, 2004

By Marie Foy
09 November 2004

Few visitor attractions in Belfast are fully geared up for deaf and hard of hearing customers - but there are some 'beacons of excellence'.

That is the finding of a new survey of arts attractions, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf said today.

The survey, conducted at eight attractions in the city, found a general lack of published information about what facilities are available for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Yorkgate Cinema and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum failed to meet some necessary standards to be Disability Discrimination Act compliant.

Neither venue had induction loops fitted, which help clarify sound for hearing aid users and the receptionist at the Yorkgate Cinema seemed unsure of what a loop system was. At the Linen Hall Library, loop systems were fitted but in the reception/library area there was no sign to indicate this to customers and in the performance area the sign was hidden.

At the Ulster Museum the receptionist was aware of the existence of a loop system but had never been trained to use it.

However, Waterfront Hall demonstrated good deaf awareness, due to staff having received disability awareness training. The Christmas pantomime at Waterfront Hall will also have three signed performances.

The Grand Opera House proved a good example of where frontline staff were trained to help deaf and hard of hearing customers.

Belfast City Hall also had two members of staff able to use BSL to level two standard, while a receptionist had basic knowledge of BSL.

Brian Symington, director of RNID Northern Ireland said: "There is still much ignorance among arts venues about how to include deaf and hard of hearing people."

2004 Independent News and Media (NI) a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd