Reasonable adjustments: University of York – expanding provision of hearing loops
The University of York has sought to expand its provision of hearing loops.
In 2012 a survey of existing hearing loops was commissioned and showed that an extensive replacement project was required. It was decided that the University would look at hearing loops in teaching areas in the first instance and this work was led by the Audio Visual Team. Disabled students were asked to report any issues with hearing loops directly to the Audio Visual Team via an online form.
In addition, the Disability and Accessibility Group (DAG) which includes members of staff with hearing loss, raised concerns about the provision of meeting rooms on campus with hearing loops. It was agreed to convene a small sub-group that included the Audio Visual Team and members of staff with hearing loss to look at rooms on campus that could be equipped for meetings.
The project led to a published list of approved rooms that are bookable via York’s room booking system. These meeting and teaching rooms were checked for room acoustics, lighting and accessibility. As a consequence of the work of the sub-group, the Audio Visual Team have prepared a specification for the installation of hearing loops in all new buildings on campus, so this list should expand over time.
The initial remit of the sub-group was to look at rooms on campus that could be equipped for meetings, test new equipment and review information about hearing loops on the University’s webpages. Over the course of the project this was expanded to review hearing loops on information desks in the University Library, the provision of ‘speech to text’ facilities for meetings of INCLUDE (the University’s disabled staff network) and public events and consultations for new buildings on campus.
The expanded remit led to a range of other outputs:
- A good practice document to assist individuals with hearing loss in meetings.
- The purchase of wireless microphones to supplement hearing loops in rooms that can be booked via the Audio Visual Team.
Learning points and reflections
The collaboration with staff and student with hearing loss was invaluable and all concerned improved their understanding and knowledge of hearing loops.
The complexity of the information recorded for each room, and the individuality of the experiences of staff and students of using hearing loops and a rooms’ acoustics, needed careful consideration.
The provision of hearing loops in listed buildings is not always achievable. This could be compensated for through a clear booking system and a wide range of available rooms.
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