Improve Hearing Accessibility In Public Places
Hard of hearing people are often denied full use of service facilities and public places, such as museums, libraries, buses, planes, and transportation terminals. Examples of this include:
- Not hearing your name being called while you’re waiting for an appointment,
- Missing your stop on public transportation because you could not hear what was called,
- Not hearing your tour guide at a museum,
- Missing a flight because you could not hear an announcement that the gate has changed,
- Not knowing that an emergency is occurring, as you cannot hear the alert.
Below are some facts about hearing loss and a list of suggestions you can use to improve hearing accessibility in such environments.
FACTS ABOUT HEARING LOSS
- Speaking loudly or using a microphone may not be enough for a person with hearing loss to understand.
- Hearing aids are only designed to optimize speech within 3 feet and can only do so much to help a person hear in their environment. This makes the availability of other supports, such as a group listening system important.
- Hearing loss makes speech sound distorted or muffled. This makes conversations more difficult to understand, especially in environments with lots of background noise.
- Larger spaces, especially those with high ceilings create echos and background noise. This often results in a challenging listening environment, even for a person without a hearing loss.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR VISITORS
- Provide Captioned Video or Audio Content: This will allow individuals to follow along with what is being said, as they will be able to read the transcribed text.
- Offer Assistive Listening Devices: Assistive listening devices, such as an FM system, will allow visitors to connect directly to the source of the audio, whether that is a tour guide or guest speaker, giving them greater control over their audio needs.
- Provide Signs and Printed Information: This will help to make sure that everyone is included.
- Have Visual Fire and Smoke Alarm Systems: This will alert persons with hearing loss to the emergency.
- Provide Good Lighting: Ensure space is well lit to allow members to speech (lip) read.
- trained staff that are aware of and sensitive to the needs of those with hearing loss.
- Reduce Noise: Be aware of background or ambient noise that may affect the acoustics of the space. Providing acoustic treatments if necessary, and decreasing the amount of noise wherever possible is a great way to reduce excess noise.
- Have Trained Staff: Staff that are aware of and sensitive to the needs of those with hearing loss will create a positive environment where individuals will feel like they belong. This will make visitors more inclined to return to your business or other public space.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
- CHHA-NL provides a Public Accessibility Program for community organizations, charity groups, places of worship, and other places that provide public meeting spaces.
- The public accessibility fund provides hearing assistive technology for non- profits and registered charities to allow for greater accessibility in public spaces.
- CHHA-NL also provides advice on other ways to support those with hearing loss in your community. We can also provide communication tips to help you stay connected with your congregation.
ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS
CHHA-NL provides financial assistance for hearing accessible listening systems for:
- Places of worship
- Public organizations
- Charity groups
- Community organizations
- Other organizations which provide public use or meeting space(s)
More details & information can be found on the Public Accessibility Program Application.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve hearing accessibility, contact us today, or visit our accessibility page.