RNID Guidelines for DDA Speak Louder than Words – Part 1

RNID Guidelines for DDA Speak Louder than Words – Part 1

Editor: The British equivalent of our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Interestingly, it sounds like the Brits have the same sorts of problems getting organizations to comply that we have in the US. This article presents a set of easy and inexpensive guidelines from RNID that organizations can use to become compliant.

Reprinted with permission from Online Recruitment (onrec.com)

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The deadline for organisations to be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is upon us. Many organisations remain in the dark about their obligations under the Act and it is not until discrimination cases are brought to court, that the requirement for ‘reasonable adjustment’ will be tested.

RNID, the largest charity representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, is helping businesses ‘take reasonable steps’ stipulated by the DDA by drawing up 13 cost-efficient criteria which can easily be implemented. RNID is confident that by fully following these guidelines, organisations will meet their obligations under the DDA for deaf and hard of hearing customers and staff.

Organisations meeting these criteria could be awarded an RNID Louder than Words kite mark. This logo will brand the organisation deaf friendly and highlight to one in seven of the public with a degree of hearing loss that they can confidently do business with you.

1. Train staff to communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing people

If frontline staff do not have basic deaf-aware skills, it is giving the impression that the service or product you offer will not consider their needs either.

There are a number of deaf and disability awareness training courses available. RNID has been funded to run free training for small businesses and information of whether you are eligible is available from 020 7296 8060 or training.services@rnid.org.uk. You can also download some communication tips from http://www.rnid.org.uk/html/leaflets/communication_tips.htm.

In addition, the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACPD) runs disability awareness courses and e-learning programmes and further information is available on www.cacdp.org.uk.

2. Prepare a clear, visible and easy-to-read deaf aware policy

Sound policies can protect an organisation by providing clear and consistent guidelines for staff to follow.

Organisations should review all their policies such as customer charters and equal opportunity policies to ensure that accessibility for disabled people is included wherever possible. This could for example be a clause saying that communications support (see point 7) is available. RNID provides a consultancy service to help organisations review policies to ensure they are inclusive.

3. Provide easily available and accessible information about products and services

For many people who use sign language, English is a second language with a completely different grammar. Complex sentences and difficult vocabulary will isolate many deaf people.

Organisations can very easily make information accessible by keeping all written material in plain English, making provision for contact by e-mail and ensuring that advertisements are not exclusively on the radio. RNID can also provide advice to organisations who would like to make their websites more user-friendly.

4. Install appropriate equipment correctly and regularly update and test it

There is a range of equipment that could greatly improve deaf people’s experience of the organisation. For example, induction loops make hearing aids more effective and further information is available fromhttp://www.rnid.org.uk/html/factsheets/equip_induction_loops
_and_infrared_systems_in_public_places.htm. These need not be expensive and a portable loop system costs as little as £140.

Other technologies are available as well as equipment to help with safety requirements such as flashing fire alarms. A list of equipment organisations can consider is available from: http://www.rnid.org.uk/html/leaflets/equipment_for_deaf_people.htm

5. Ensure a good listening environment which is well signed and well lit

Many deaf and hard of hearing people rely to some extent on lip reading and by placing the light in front of a reception area could improve the environment for lip reading. Offering a quiet meeting room, away from an open plan office, will help reduce background noise for person wearing hearing aids.

This is something that can cost organisations very little while making a dramatic difference to the experience a deaf person has of the organisation.

Here’s Part Two

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