Deaf bus passengers will now be able to hear journey announcements much more clearly following the successful test of an onboard hearing loop system.
Brighton and Hove Buses has been working for three years with hearing loop experts to develop a good quality system that can be rolled out across its fleet – and in the latest test by fifteen deaf people, it passed with flying colours.
The first new higher-spec loop system will be fitted to all new buses, including those recently delivered to operate on services 1,7 and 49.
One of these will be parked at stop D at Churchill Square from 11am to 2.30pm today to mark Deaf Awareness Week – with hearing tests and lip-reading and signing taster sessions also available on board.
Brighton and Hove Buses’ managing director Martin Harris said: “We’ve wanted to this for so long. We’re all about making travel accessible for all and have successfully launched a host of pioneering initiatives to help make independent travel a reality for people living with disabilities.
“Having a good quality hearing loop system on board our buses has been on our list for some time. My colleagues Victoria Garcia, Ashley Burrows and Neil Miles have worked closely with users, the manufacturer and the specialist system designer to get it to the standard it needs to be.
“I’m proud of the unstinting commitment they have shown to making this happen and to establish a true benchmark for the industry that meets customer requirements.”
The bus company has been working with Contacta, Wrightbus and Action on Hearing Loss. Fifteen service users from Action on Hearing Loss tested the new system in the priority seating area of a Brighton and Hove Bus.
Jenny Macintosh, a volunteer with Action on Hearing Loss who was one of the testers, said: “The loop system is really important because if there’s a lot of noise on the bus or people are standing in front of visual announcements, then I can switch my hearing aid to hearing loop and get important next stop information.
“It makes life so much less worrying. Imagine going to the airport and not being able to see the announcements about your flight. The bus company has worked tirelessly to come up with a system that is a good standard and I have nothing but praise for them.”
The hearing loop system will amplify audio next stop and other announcements on board the bus as well as driver communications with passengers through the safety screen for people wearing hearing aids.
Head of Accessibility and Inclusive Travel Alison Frank from the Department of Transport has cited Brighton & Hove Buses as exemplars on accessibility initiatives.