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Scottish Tourist Attractions Ignoring the Hard-of-Hearing?

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

Scotland’s major tourist attractions now fail to cater to the needs of hearing loss sufferers, according to the charity Action on Hearing Loss Scotland.

Mystery visitors from the charity discovered that only three out of 21 tourist venues, including Stirling Castle, Dundee’s McManus Museum and St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow, offered working hearing loops to tourists with hearing loss at their main ticket or information desk.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland commented that working loops are important for amplifying speech over background noise for people who wear hearing aids.

The charity’s mystery visitors assessed and scored these tourist attractions based on a few factors, including overall accessibility of the venue for hearing loss sufferers and whether staff properly demonstrated hearing loss knowledge.

The visitors found that the National Museum of Scotland and Holyrood Palace did not have working loops, but the two Edinburgh based attractions and Stirling Castle were the most accessible attractions for hearing loss sufferers.

On the other hand, they considered Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh’s the Scotch Whisky Experience and Our Dynamite Earth and South Ayrshire’s The Falkirk Wheel and the Robert Burns Museum the least accessible venues.

“A working loop at the ticket or information desk has a huge impact on whether I decide to continue with my visits to tourist attractions,” Robin Wickes, an Edinburgh resident who wears hearing aids, told STV News.

“It’s very frustrating when staff aren’t deaf aware and there are no loops or they aren’t working, because I can often miss vital information if there is a lot of background noise. All tourist attractions should show that they value my custom by making sure reasonable adjustments are made for my hearing loss.”

“As Scotland prepares for major high-profile events in 2014, it is crucial that tourist attractions are fully accessible for the one in six people in Scotland who have hearing loss as well as those coming from overseas,” Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s director Delia Henry told STV News.

“People who are deaf or hard of hearing have the legal right to enjoy the same level of service as other customers so it is absolutely essential that tourist attractions ensure that equipment such as loops at main information points are installed, maintained and switched on and that staff are trained in deaf awareness.”

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