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Ampetronic at Parkex 2009

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Why would you waste money on providing assistive listening systems on your car park intercoms?

‘Why would you?’ Is the typical response to this question. However, if asked, ‘Why would you waste money on providing disabled parking spaces in your car park,’ there would be an outcry. And so there should be. But when you consider that physically disabled people make up 1.4% of the adult population where as those with a hearing disability account for a massive 14%, you begin to see the imbalance. True you do not have to be wheelchair bound to benefit from the Blue Badge Scheme, but neither do you need to be hard of hearing to derive a benefit from assistive listening technology. And what’s more, it costs much less.

I was driving in Paris a few weeks ago. I am not fluent in French, but I can generally get by with the little I know, a few hand gestures and a some pointing, so I was feeling quite confident when I pulled into the Marie car park. The barrier was down, the attendant was no where to be seen, but there was an intercom. I pressed the button and in my best French, announced who I was and who I had come to see.

This is when my trouble started. A lightening speed reply. I had no chance,’ lentement, (slowly) plus lentement’ (more slowly) Ireplied. The assistant repeated the response, it was slower, but still, I could not understand. He tried again, but now I could barely hear him, let alone understand him. Someone was obviously blocking the traffic on the street and the Parisian motorists were not happy. Distracted for a moment by the cacophony of car horns, I turned round to see what was causing the commotion. It was me. Just a short conversation on the intercom and the traffic was backing up behind me onto the boulevard. Embarrassed that my poor language skills were holding up French commerce, I span the car round and sped off. (did a 3 point turn and drove off slowly)

With the increasing reliance placed on intercom systems in our car parks, 2.5 million hearing aid users in the UK are quite likely to have a similar experience. And as in Paris, it will not just affect them.

Even with the best quality intercom system, a hearing aid user will struggle to understand what is being said as they find it difficult to separate the background environmental noise from the wanted signal. A well designed induction loop system does this for them- it couples the intercom signal directly to the hearing aid eliminating background noise completely.

The hearing-aid user will use the intercom just like any one else. They will not be delayed or delay others and no one will know. Your car park will run more efficiently and instead of further isolating hearing aid users you will be helping them to stay connected and confident in society

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