Fletcher said that hotels should be equipped with the proper warning system for the hearing impaired, including a strobe light and vibrating pad to awake someone who can’t hear the fire alarm. Her experience led her to do some research, the results of which are quite startling. Although there are nine million deaf people in the United Kingdom, only 329 hotels provided such equipment. And it’s not just about fire safety. In addition to closed captioning and conference facilities equipped with hearing aids, Fletcher thinks hotels should give their staff basic sign language training to help communicate with hearing-impaired guests.
As she continues to consult hotels, Fletcher plans to publish a book, "Tourism for the Hearing Impaired - Where to Stay,” that will serve as a guidebook for deaf travelers as to which hotels are prepared to accommodate them.
"I have noticed that all the UK brochures and Tourism For All Open Britain 2011 Guide Book show very little information about facilities for deaf/hard of hearing people and we have to go through page after page to find a suitable hotel or accommodation provider that provides facilities and/or equipment for deaf and hard of hearing people,” Fletcher said. “I have been going through thousands of brochures, and I continually find that there is very little support provided, which I felt was a bit unfair."
With so much importance being placed on accommodating those with other disabilities – such as those in wheelchairs – we do believe it is fair to say that the hearing-impaired are often overlooked, not just in the hotel industry but in many other aspects of the travel industry as well. Most entertainment systems on airplanes don’t have captioning, for example.
Consider us on board with Fletcher’s quest, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact her ideas will no doubt have on the industry.
[Photo: Hotel Chatter]