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Hearing charity wants transport improvements

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Charity Action On Hearing Loss wants stations and transport companies to make sure the people who use them have access to visual information, so that those who are hard of hearing or deaf are not confused or inconvenienced.

Paul Breckell, the chief executive of the charity, is going to be giving evidence at a Transport Committee session today, March 11th, which focuses on disabled people's transport access.

"Although access has improved for passengers with hearing loss in recent years, people who are deaf or hard of hearing still face many challenges getting real-time information when using the transport network," he has explained.

Something small, like the platform a train is leaving from being changed, or a connection being delayed, can swiftly result in confusion or distress when a passenger has hearing loss and doesn’t know what's happening, he said.

It is crucial that travel hubs and transport companies give "immediate and accurate visual information to avoid leaving deaf or hard of hearing passengers standing or heading in the wrong direction!” he added.

Action on Hearing Loss says that it has received many complaints that have come from people who have hearing loss after they did not get accessible details regarding changes affecting journeys they were making by plane, bus, coach or train.

The charity, which has over 2,000 members, is advising that stations and transport companies provide a way of seeing real-time information about travel, particularly with regards to changes, in a visual way.

They should make sure that hearing loop systems are in place at info desks, and these are regularly tested to make sure they’re working, it says. Such systems are able to help those wearing hearing aids hear what staff are saying.

Meanwhile, it says, stations and transport companies should make sure employees have deaf awareness training and can communicate in an effective way with people with hearing loss.

And information desks should be placed where there is a good level of light and it is quiet, as this will mean passengers who have hearing loss will be better able to lipread what people are saying and won’t have to deal with so much background noise.

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