Secret survey reveals ‘shockingly poor’ deaf awareness of hotels in London

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Hotels must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be accessible to people with impaired hearing
Hotels must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be accessible to people with impaired hearing
Hotels in London are being warned that they could be putting the lives of guests with hearing loss at risk by not having appropriate procedures in place for emergency situations.

After making anonymous phone calls to 232 hotels across the capital, the charity Action on Hearing Loss discovered that one in 10 hotels admitted they don’t have a specific procedure or equipment for deaf guests in the event of an emergency. Of the hotels that do have a procedure, 13 per cent just have flashing alarms.

“We’d be delighted to work with hotels throughout the UK to help them improve access and meet the individual needs of guests with hearing loss,” said acting chief axecutive of Action on Hearing Loss Paul Breckell.

“People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have the legal right to enjoy the same level of service as other guests and, it is absolutely essential that hotels put procedures in place to safeguard their wellbeing during emergency situations.”

Shocking responses

Some of the responses from hotel staff showed extraordinary levels of poor deaf awareness or lack of concern for guests with hearing loss. One receptionist said: “The alarm is very loud – it wakes everyone up.”

Another revealed their hotel’s shocking lapse of care for deaf guests by saying that in emergency situations ‘if there is an alarm, everyone vacates and then, when we know it is safe, we can check the rooms – but we can't help otherwise.’

Room service

The experience of Tanvir Ahmed, a senior trainer at Action on Hearing Loss who communicates through sign language, illustrates the problems often faced by deaf and hard of hearing guests.

Tanvir said: “I’ve stayed in hotels where there has been a shocking lack of deaf awareness which has left me feeling extremely frustrated. For example, a hotel in Brighton didn’t have a way for me to contact room service so I ended up texting my daughter in Walsall and she called the reception to place my dinner order.

“She then text to let me know the room service was at the door. Hotels often just need to make simple adjustments to ensure their services are accessible for me and it’s about time they met their legal requirements.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, businesses must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be accessible to people with disabilities so not only are inaccessible hotels missing out on potential income, they’re also putting their customers’ safety at risk.

Top tips to help hotels meet the needs of guests with hearing loss:

  1. Train your staff in basic deaf awareness so that they can communicate effectively with guests who have hearing loss.
  2. Make sure you have a hearing loop at your reception desk and there is a regular process to check that is works.
  3. Make sure you have alternative ways for people with hearing loss to contact your hotel other than telephone. For example, offer SMS or email contact, or train your staff how to use the Text Relay service.
  4. Have clear procedures for staff to alert people with hearing loss when the hotel’s fire alarm is activated, and invest in alerting systems designed for guests with hearing loss.
  5. Consider providing amplified telephones with an in built hearing loop for your guests with hearing loss so that they can contact reception.
  6. Check that subtitles are available on your televisions.
  7. Set aside a quiet area in the hotel’s restaurant where people with hearing loss can have a conversation without too much background noise.
  8. Visit Action on Hearing Loss’s website​ for additional advice on making your hotel accessible for people with hearing loss.

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It is so much easier than you think!

Posted by Heather JOhnson Ceilidh B&B + Registered British Sign Language Interpreter,

All it takes is a little thought and you can increase your repeat customers. One in seven of the population has a hearing loss and as the population is getting older. Just think of all re revenue you could be mission out on. Putting in simple measures to ensure clients with a hearing loss can book and once in your establishment relax and feel safe and secure, you will have repeat custom no problem.
Have a pad and paper to hand, use simple high visibilty graphics great for international guests too! Inform the guest of your emergency procedure i.e. if you cant afford a flashing fire alarm system contact your local Sensory Services or surf the web and get a portable flashing door bell, afix it to the guest door and appoint a desinated official to activate it if required. It also helps housekeeping and saves embarasment. There is no need for huge expense.
Ensure all staff know your procedures for assistance animals too (Hearing Dogs for Deaf people should be treated the same a Guide dogs!)The Dog will save you the cost of providing specalist eqiupment? and will again give you repeat customers as the guest will feel secure and reassured that you accept and understand the need for a higly trained dog.

Most of the things you can do are inexpensive, easy to do and benifits many different guests not only those with a hearing loss.

Don't lose out on potential customers.We all have to work longer now the things you put in place will also benift staff as most of us will aquire a hearing loss of some degree before we retire!

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All it takes is a little thought

Posted by Heather Johson registered British Sign Language Inerpreter and owner of Ceilidh Bed & Breakfast,

With a little thought can be provided with the facilities to ensure they can stay and sleep secure in the knowlege they will be safe in the event of any emergency.

The happy and contented guest will be a repeat customer.
Remember one in every seven guests (or more depending on your demographic)will have a hearing loss. Can you afford to turn them away.

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