Hotels urged to add facilities for the deaf and learn sign language

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 13 August 2013


UK: A deaf awareness tutor has urged hoteliers to undertake deaf awareness and sign language classes.

Consultant Ruthy Fletcher, who is deaf herself, says: "For many deaf or hard of hearing people, communication with hearing people can be frustrating and stressful. This is because of the huge communication barrier between speaking and signing. Some deaf people may feel unsettled to ask for help, or ask for some paper and a pen. As a deaf awareness tutor, I know that there are problems with communication barriers between hearing and deaf people within the workplace. I urge all hoteliers and accommodation providers to undertake deaf awareness training and basic sign language (BSL) classes to help to make deaf and hearing people have equally enjoyable experiences. "

Fletcher says that most hotels and tourism facilities have insuffcient facilities for deaf travellers. She says: "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. 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."

Fletcher is aiming to help hoteliers remedy this situation. "I hope to provide a hotel brochure specifically for the deaf. It will have details about which hotels provide access to communication and equipment for the deaf; for example; wireless fire alarm with a strobe light and vibrating pad. This is an important venture, as I believe that everybody deserves the chance to have an enjoyable and safe experience whilst staying somewhere that they have chosen to be their home for a night or for several days or even weeks," she says.

She adds: "I am hoping to publish a guidebook "Tourism for the Hearing Impaired - Where to stay", which will make it a lot quicker and easier for the hearing impaired to find suitable destinations to stay with the right facilities and equipment. This book will list those establishments, hotels and guesthouses, which provide facilities and access for the deaf or hard of hearing."

Fletcher has had personal experience of the potential dangers of hotels which lack the necessary equipment. She says: "Since my experience of staying in a hotel where the fire alarm went off, I have discovered that there are only 329 hotels that provide equipment for the deaf. I feel this is not enough, as there are nine million deaf people in the UK. I was once staying in a hotel and unbeknown to me the fire alarm went off, I decided to pop out and was surprised to see the fire brigade, guests and staff outside. Luckily it was a false alarm. If my room had a fire alarm, strobe light and vibrating pad for night time I would have felt safe in the knowledge that should the fire alarm ring, I would evacuate immediately with everyone else.

Fletcher says hotel BSL mats are a good starting point for hoteliers and accommodation providers to learn some basic sign language to communicate with deaf customers.  If you are interested in purchasing one or if you need more information you can contact Fletcher at


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