Tuesday, June 01, 2010

VOLUNTARY GROUPS URGED TO IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY FOR DEAF PEOPLE

VOLUNTARY GROUPS URGED TO IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY FOR DEAF PEOPLE

A disability charity is urging voluntary organisations to make sure they are fully accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as part of Volunteers Week (June 1 to 7).

The RNID has made the call after results from its annual membership survey revealed that 62% of respondents who had volunteered had experienced difficulty communicating with other people.

More than a quarter (29%) of respondents said staff or other volunteers were not deaf aware and 25% said fully operational induction loops, which amplify speech over background noise for hearing aid users, were not available.

RNID's chief executive Jackie Ballard said: "Volunteering provides people who are deaf or hard of hearing with wonderful opportunities to gain new skills, rewarding experiences and the chance to widen their social circles while helping others.

"Many voluntary organisations doing tremendous, life-changing work in local communities will be disappointed to learn that, by failing to be deaf-aware or providing a fully operational induction loop, they are preventing people with hearing loss from fully enjoying their volunteering experience."

RNID has produced a series of tips to help staff and volunteers at voluntary groups communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The charity advises people to talk in a place with good lighting so they can be lip-read, to talk in a place away from noisy distractions and to face the person they are talking to.

RNID said people should speak clearly, but not too slowly, and advised people not to exaggerate their lip movements or shout.

For more information about making voluntary organisations more deaf aware, go to www.rnid.org.uk/volunteer or email: volunteering@rnid.org.uk.

RNID is a charity dedicated to tackling hearing loss and promoting hearing health. It campaigns and lobbies, raises awareness of deafness and hearing loss, provides services and carries out social, medical and technical research.

The charity's membership questionnaire was sent to members in the summer of 2009.

For further information about RNID, visit www.rnid.org.uk, call 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email informationline@rnid.org.uk.