Hearing access specialists
Hearing access specialists

Hearing Access Protocol for meetings & events

Meetings and events should be accessible to everyone, whatever their hearing ability.  The Hearing Access Protocol provides guidance on how to design and run meetings and events so people with any hearing ability can hear and follow them, including those who are deaf.  Download our summary leaflet.


The Hearing Access Protocol was developed by people with hearing loss and consultation across the UK took place January to April 2018.  It has been produced by Ideas for Ears and is supported by deafscotland, the Health & Social Care Alliance Scotland, and Disability Equality Scotland.

What is hearing access?

Hearing access is about making it more possible for more people to more easily hear and follow the spoken word and other audible information.  It is crucial for ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion. It is just as vital as physical and mobility access.

Download a short leaflet about HEARING ACCESS

What it is about

The Hearing Access Protocol contains guidance for anyone who is:

  1. organising a meeting/event
  2. attending a meeting/event
  3. speaking or presenting at a meeting/event

Find out more

Why it is needed

Everyone can be affected by environments that offer poor conditions for hearing, listening and communication. Difficulties are particularly common for those who have hearing loss or other hearing conditions.

Poor acoustics, presenters who are hard to understand, background noise and sub-standard audio-visual materials are just some of the things that cause difficulties.

Find out more

Help to get started

A range of support is available to support organisations to deliver a meeting or event.

Webinar session – talk through the details of your meeting or event and the actions you should be taking.

Team workshop – learn about the protocol and explore how your organisation can confidently deliver great hearing access time and again.

Hearing experience audit – check the diversity in hearing ability and the experiences individuals are having within meetings/events held regularly e.g. staff meetings, stakeholder meetings, group/club meetings.

Ask about availability and cost

Missing out

Meetings and events are a necessary and important feature of life. They are integral to the workplace and to social, leisure, learning, civic and cultural activities and opportunities.

For those who find it difficult, or impossible, to hear and follow what’s being said at meetings and events, there is a real impact: you miss out on the chance for enjoyment, to contribute, to influence, or to fulfil your potential.

It can be as detrimental to miss out on a few words or mishear some of what’s said, as it can be to miss out by not being able to hear or follow any of what’s said. This affects how people can get involved.

Read about Access and Participation

Making joining in possible

There is great variation in the way that people hear.  Although some people have very good hearing, one sixth of the population have some form of hearing loss.  A portion of this number, have very limited or no hearing ability. Additional numbers have sensitive hearing or tinnitus.

Given the variation in hearing ability, no single adjustment will deliver hearing access to everyone. However, many of the needs that people have can be met through the adoption of good practices that are sensible and beneficial for everyone, including those with good hearing.

The need for good practice can seem obvious and self-explanatory when you know a little about the barriers and challenges that people experience.

Read about Common Barriers

Rights & equality

Most organisations have access and inclusion policies in place to support equality and diversity objectives.  In addition, every organisation has to comply with equality and human rights legislation. The Hearing Access Protocol will assist organisations to:

  • avoid discriminating against people with hearing loss under the Equality Act 2010
  • deliver on Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the right to information, and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities regarding support so they can enjoy the same rights as everyone else
  • meet the requirements of the Patient Rights Act 2011 (in Scotland) and the Care Act 2014 (in England and Wales) by ensuring healthcare-related meetings and events can be accessed by people with hearing loss
  • achieve inclusive communication, which requires that information is accessible as well as understandable
  • deliver on the recommendations of June 2018 that deafscotland has set out for the public sector in Scotland regarding inclusion of people with hearing loss and deafness
  • achieve better outcomes with Equality Impact Assessments across a wide range of services

Ask for support to get things underway in your organisation