A select group of thought-leaders gathered at Gleneagles recently to discuss communication accessibility and the work being done to tackle hearing, speech and language challenges.
The event was organised by Ideas for Ears in collaboration with researchers from the University of Dundee. It was hosted by Volunteer Scotland in their Community Bubble Tent during the prestigious Solheim Cup tournament. The informal meeting venue was selected to represent the importance of communication access no matter where meetings and group gatherings are taking place.
Discussions were facilitated by Dr Michael Crabb of University of Dundee, and worked through a series of questions. These included:
- How can new evidence emerging from a shared project by University of Dundee and Ideas for Ears contribute to better communication accessibility? What research should follow on from this?
- How significant are the challenges relating to noise, acoustics and audio equipment in different sectors and settings? Do Building Regulations do enough to set and check standards?
- What tools and examples of good practice can help promote change and improvement?
- How far do we go in requiring all hearing (and other communication and language) access requirements to be met always and everywhere? For example, should the requirements be the same in a public meeting, as a classroom, workplace, community group meeting, entertainment or cultural activity etc?
The discussions were all geared towards forming some concrete thoughts that could be taken back to the Scottish Government to provide direction on ways to make public consultation activities more accessible.
Key themes emerging:
- The need for a clear route-map for organisations and individuals to help them work towards achieving ‘communication for all’
- The importance of stronger regulation and/or extended legislation to reduce levels of communication disadvantage
- Building Regulations not having effective minimum standards on acoustics, noise and audio equipment
- The need for hearing-related issues to be a much higher priority in schools
- The importance of testing and piloting current audit and assessment tools for measuring and monitoring standards around hearing access and inclusive communication
- The scope to bring about improvement by creating more educational opportunities for architects, designers and specifiers
- The need for a campaign around ‘communication for all’ and on-going education and awareness training across all sectors
- Sally Shaw, director & founder, Ideas for Ears – organiser
- Dr Michael Crabb, Lecturer, University of Dundee – facilitator
- Janis McDonald, Chief Officer, deafscotland
- Kim Hartley-Kean, Head of Scotland Office, Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists
- Joe O’Donnell, Educational Audiologist, Hear2Learn Ltd
- Alison Glen, Director & NRAC Registered Access Consultant, Barham Glen Architects
- Dr Peter Spencer Davies, retired academic and advocate for hearing access for older age groups
- Jacky Smith, Communications Development Practitioner, Sense Scotland
- James Davidson, Communications and Research Coordinator, Disability Equality Scotland
- George Thomson, CEO, Volunteer Scotland – OBSERVER & venue host
- George Greig, retired professional with first-hand experience of communication disadvantage – OBSERVER