With 1 in 6 of the UK’s adult population affected with hearing loss, it only makes sense that our cultural attractions should be made accessible for all visitors and in this case, equipped with facilities to accommodate hearing-impaired visitors.
The hearing specialists at ReSound carried out a report on 40 the most visited attractions in the UK, and analysed how many of them had accommodating features available for the hearing-impaired. Sign language guides and tours for hearing-impaired visitors were one of the accommodating features analysed in the report, as well as sensory rooms and quiet times.
You might notice that many museums, galleries, and other attractions are now improving their accessibility features to make the user experience more inclusive. My favourite is the quiet performances that are available for theatre goers, the needs of the visitors are really taken into consideration.
In particular, access guides and British Sign Language (BSL) tours at museums and galleries can help visitors with hearing-impairments to interact with the attraction more effectively. Below is the infographic created by ReSound based on their report:
#1 British Museum
It’s no surprise that the British Museum in London is crowned the most accessible attraction in the UK for those with hearing loss, with a score of 78.2/80. Sound-enhancement systems are available throughout the museum and induction loops are installed at the Ticket Desk in the Great Court area.
Other accessibility-friendly features at the museum include sensory areas, mobility scooters and companion animals welcome, and even manual wheelchair hire, which can be pre-booked free of charge.
#2 Roman Baths, Bath
The Roman Baths and the Scottish National Gallery take joint second place in the report with scores of 69 out of 80. Roman Baths top the table as the best tourist attraction with the best TripAdvisor reviews from visitors with hearing impairments. Visitors with hearing impairments can enjoy the site using the British Sign Language or fully descriptive audio tour and tactile models. Printed copies of the audio guide text are also available.
British Sign Language (BSL) tours are also available on Opus Touch handsets and free of charge with entry tickets, these are issued beside the audio guides.
#3 Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
The Scottish National Gallery (different from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery) as mentioned above, received the same scores as the Roman Baths. Portable hearing loops are available for public talks and lectures, these are free of charge and do not need to be booked. All in-gallery videos are subtitled and where this is not possible, transcripts are provided.
The gallery also regularly runs free gallery tours in British Sign Language (BSL).
#4 Science Museum, London
Coming in at 4th place is the Science Museum, London’s second attraction. At the Science Museum, hearing loops are fitted at all ticket and information desks and incorporated into most audio exhibits. British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation is incorporated into selected films and most of the gallery-based films are shown with subtitles and transcripts are available for digital download in some galleries.
#5 Royal Academy of Arts, London
At the Royal Academy of Arts, hearing dogs for hearing-impaired visitors are welcome. Exhibitions that are accompanied by an audio guide can be accessed via your mobile phone or by scanning a QR code. Transcripts are available upon request from the audio desk at the entrance of the exhibition.
For the full report of ReSound’s Most Accessible Attractions and a list of the top UK cultural attractions, visit: https://www.resound.com/en-gb/hearing-loss/hearing-impaired-days-out
NB. Press release adapted from the Most Accessible Attractions report which was kindly provided to me by ReSound.