26 Nov Checks at the checkouts – accessible shopping this Christmas
Hearing loops are present in many high street stores, but a lack of staff awareness and poor maintenance can mean that customers with hearing loss don’t get the service they need.
With the addition of screens to protect against the spread of coronavirus, window intercom systems also need to be in place and working well, to ensure everyone’s shopping experience is clear and enjoyable.
As Christmas shopping gets into full swing, our five-point checklist will help retailers, entertainment venues and restaurants welcome customers and make their till bells ring.
- Power up
Service counters and points of sale can have a number of power points so it’s vital to make sure assistive listening technology is plugged in and switched on. There might have been changes to the layout of a store or a refurbishment, so if the hearing loop or window intercom isn’t working, checking the power source is the first place to start.
Contacta’s products are extremely energy efficient so they can be left switched on. They generate very little heat, so as well as limiting energy costs, they are also fire safe.
- Check the connections
If the power is on, check the connections. Cables may have become unplugged or damaged and may need replacing.
If you have a Contacta product and it develops a fault you can’t rectify yourself, get in touch and our engineers will come out and fix it as soon as possible.
If a hearing loop has been installed, make sure customers know! The ‘ear’ sign is recognised the world over, so whether customers come from the next street or from the next continent, hearing loops are technology they can all use.
Position the signs wherever loops are present – if there are a row of till points and they all have loops, they all need a sign.
Having clear signage means customers needn’t highlight their hearing impairment by having to ask if there are hearing loops available. They can use them discreetly, without anyone else being aware.
- Staff can make the difference
Staff need to be aware of the technology that’s in place. They shouldn’t be wondering what the sign is for as they can make the difference to someone who is clearly struggling to hear.
Staff have a particularly important role to play if the venue has a portable hearing loop. A portable system needs to be kept in the same location so staff know where to find it. It needs to be charged and staff should know how to turn it on. Awareness of how to speak to someone with hearing loss will also help. The RNID has some great tips.
- Organise a maintenance contract
Shopping and entertainment should be accessible to people with hearing loss 365 days a year. A maintenance contract ensures window intercoms and hearing loops are working, and working to industry standards. This guarantees hearing aid users will receive sound at the correct level for them to hear clearly. Use a specialist maintenance provider and organise annual visits to test the equipment.
Our products are designed to last for years, even decades, and we aim to replace parts rather than entire systems. Keeping them in good working order helps to prolong their life.
Christmas shopping can have many stresses but hearing shouldn’t be one of them.