After learning that one in six people in Inverclyde have some kind of hearing loss, including more than half of people aged over 60, myself and my staff invited Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to come into the office, give us a deaf awareness presentation and discuss the best practise for communicating with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We made the decision early on after setting up the office that we should install a hearing loop to improve access for constituents who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The hearing loop coupled with our ramp and access toilet makes our office accessible but we are always happy to take on suggestions on how we can improve accessibility for everyone.
Action on Hearing Loss Scotland were a huge help and shared their top tips with myself and my staff members, helping us all become more aware of the individual communication needs of constituents who are deaf or have hearing loss.
It is as simple as taking the time to consider whether we can do or say something differently to make it easier for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to follow what we am saying. We even got to learn some basic BSL and fingerspelling, which we can use to welcome visitors from the Deaf community.
I really would urge organisations across Inverclyde to contact Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to improve their own deaf awareness, ensure they have hearing loops and help reduce the frustration and isolation experienced by local people who are deaf or have hearing loss.