Hearing Loop Legislation
Hearing Loop Legislation
It is vital that businesses provide an inclusive environment where possible so that all visitors and customers can participate in or access the service provided. There are several documents that state where hearing loops should be installed in order to comply with recent regulations and it is often difficult to understand what applies to you. We’ve summarised a few of them here to help you figure out what solution you need to have available in your building or as part of your service.
The Equality Act 2010 combines a number of laws including the Disability Discrimination Act and states that everyone should be treated equally. It serves to protect certain groups of people from discrimination and improve public services.
“Service providers are required to make changes, where needed, to improve service for disabled customers or potential customers”.
It is important to note the reference to “potential customers”, and ensure you are not just addressing issues within your business but providing an environment that is inclusive and accessible for everyone.The Act stipulates that service providers are legally required to provide information in an accessible format to everyone, and therefore “provide auxiliary aids and services”, including hearing loops.
Part M is an Approved Document published by the Department for Communities and Local Government which provides guidance on how compliance with building regulations may be achieved. Section 4.1 of Part M refers to the facilities provided in public buildings.
“The aim is for all people to have access to, and the use of, all the facilities provided within buildings.”
Entertainment and Social Venues Everyone should “be able to participate in the proceedings at lecture/conference facilities and at entertainment or leisure and social venues, not only as spectators, but also as participants and/or staff.” The document states that in all buildings with entertainment or leisure functions and conference facilities, a solution such as a hearing loop must be provided for those with hearing loss to be able to participate in the services available. This applies to hotels, schools, universities and community centres, as well as theatres and sports stadia.
Part M also specifies that all buildings where service or reception counters are found must investigate providing a solution for the hard of hearing. This includes many types of buildings, i.e. retail, places of worship, healthcare, transport, government and education.
Service and Reception Counters
It is not often sufficient to just address one area. When trying to meet the requirements laid out in Part M, it is important to consider that there may be many locations within a building where conversations or listening interactions take place. Focus on providing a good customer experience instead of simply providing the minimum required to comply with the regulations. Part M requirements are met if; “provision for a hearing enhancement system is installed in rooms and spaces designed for meetings, lectures, classes, performances, spectator sport or films, and at service or reception counters when they are situated in noisy areas”.
Induction loop, infrared and radio frequency are listed as commonly used solutions. The document emphasises that the requirements of Part M are only met if; “the presence of an induction loop or infrared hearing enhancement system is indicated by the standard symbol”, demonstrating the importance of signage in your building.
BS8300 is a code of practice compiled by the BSI detailing design of buildings to meet the needs of disabled people. It also promotes equal access to services and buildings and recommends a hearing loop solution is used in conference, entertainment and counter scenarios. BS8300 is currently being revised and the updated version will be available in 2017.
If you're still unsure about which of these apply to you then get in touch.
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