Scottish Shops Hearing Loops ‘Not Usable’

The Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID) has revealed that a quarter of shops and businesses in Scotland have unusable hearing loop systems.

RNID sent mystery shoppers to 500 stores in several towns and cities across the country including Dundee, Glasgow, Paisley and Falkirk which displayed signs claiming to have hearing loops.

The study has shown that in fact, they do not have a working system.

Some 132 shops exhibited a loop sign but in 32 cases, they were not functioning or staff did not know how to use them.

There is said to be 168,000 hearing aid users in Scotland and a portable hearing loop is reported to be bought for £200.

Delia Henry, Director of RNID Scotland, said: “Eighty per cent of shops were not accessible for hearing aid users at all, and in 25% of stores who promoted the fact they had a hearing loop, they either weren’t working or weren’t accessible for hearing aid users.”

INACCESSIBLE HEARING LOOPS

Ms Henry said that in one store they had bought a loop but had left it in a box. She added: “The company had spent money to make the store accessible but they hadn’t trained the staff how to use it. It was really a waste of investment.”

All branches of Carphone Warehouse visited by mystery shoppers were found to be inaccessible to hearing aid users.

A spokesperson for the Carphone Warehouse said: “All of our stores should have working induction loops installed and we will investigate the issue with this particular store immediately. We apologise in the meantime.”

Difficulties were also recorded at a T Mobile branch, in Argyll Street, Glasgow; in which despite displaying the hearing loop sign, staff said they ‘probably hadn’t got one anymore.’

IMPAIRED HEARING

In a statement, T-Mobile said: “All T-Mobile’s retail stores have hearing loops in place for customers with impaired hearing and we’ve set this as an internal requirement for all new store builds.

“We’re sorry to hear about the incident in the Argyll [Street] store, where it’s been reported that the hearing loop was not in service.”

It added: “We’ve just recently completed a thorough staff education programme to ensure all employees are familiar with how the technology works and every customer has the best in-store experience.

LAW BREAKING

“We will also be undertaking additional disability awareness training across our retail stores over the next few months.”

The Equality Act of 2010 places a duty on retailers to allow equal access to disabled and able-bodied shoppers.

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