Event organisers not only have to consider physical access – they also have to consider communication access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, while one in six people in Australia have a hearing loss, this aspect of events is often forgotten by event organisers and venue managers. Communication accessibility is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. While some venues claim that a hearing loop is installed, this may not be sufficient, particularly if it is not functioning as is often the case. Also, not all deaf people wear hearing aids with the requisite “T” switch.
Deaf Children Australia have produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for event organisers covering Auslan interpreters, live captioning, and hearing loop technology. At the end of the guidelines is a useful checklist.
People who have a hearing loss often choose not to reveal this aspect of themselves, consequently organisers receive little, if any, feedback about the efficacy or otherwise of hearing loops. People with and without hearing loss often find captioning useful particularly if they have English as a second language, or if the speaker has an unfamiliar accent. More technical detail on hearing loops can be found on the Clearasound website.