About Lets Loop Southampton

Lets Loop Southampton is a voluntary organisation founded by Steve and Chris Beal in 2017 that aims to make Southampton the first City in England to have a hearing loop in every public space.

Since founding, we have partnered with Healthwatch Southampton to visit every business and public space in Southampton to audit whether they have a working hearing loop system, then work with key stakeholders to encourage businesses to install hearing loops.

Approximately 33,500 (over 13%) of residents of Southampton currently have a condition that affects their hearing to some degree. With an aging population, this number is expected to continue to rise. The inability to effectively communicate results in a significant amount of people feeling vulnerable and not wanting to venture out to busy city centres, affecting businesses and individuals alike.

Under the Equality Act 2010 businesses, shops and public buildings in England, Scotland, Wales and ROI are expected to make reasonable adjustments to any building used by the public. Hearing disability is often misunderstood with a standard response being to shout! Very often this isn’t effective as hearing loss is much more complicated. Much research has been carried out to try and improve conditions for those with a hearing condition. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by providing a working loop system. Hearing loops are inexpensive and allow individuals with hearings aids to communicate easier with staff at till points, receptions etc.

With the blessing of Southampton City Council Lets Loop is working to educate those in Southampton of their duty to ensure premises are accessible to all. Our aim is to make Southampton the first City to be fully looped.

We have already seen great improvements to the City in the past year. Key improvements include:

  • Southampton Football Club installing over 20 hearing loops to St Marys Stadium
  • Partnering with Healthwatch Southampton to inspect GP practices across the City
  • Receiving a commitment from local Business Improvement District GoSouthampton! to establish a £4000 grant for independent businesses inside the BID to acquire funding for hearing loops.
  • Cath Kidston committing to installing hearing loop systems across all their stores nationwide
  • New Look installing a hearing loop system in Southampton
  • The Body Shop committing to inspecting all their hearing loops nationwide

Quotes and Testimonials

“We’re supporting the Let’s Loop Southampton campaign as it will help to make the city’s retail district more open and welcoming to all. We fully support the traders who have already installed hearing loops and maintain them, and are looking forward to more retailers following their excellent example.” Cllr Warwick Payne, Cabinet member for Housing and Adult Care

“Let’s Loop Southampton have done a fantastic job identifying some of the stores and facilities in the Southampton that currently do not have loops installed.  But better than that they have persuaded some to install or repair existing loops.  It is so important that we all continue to work to support the hearing impaired community and encourage others to do likewise.” Caroline Nokes MP, Romsey and Southampton North

“By not looping our City, we are creating barriers for those affected to get out and integrate within our community. Over time these barriers disencourage our residents to engage, increasing social isolation and loneliness. Healthwatch Southampton is committed to continue working with Lets Loop Southampton to help to tackle this growing issue.” Rob Kurn Manager, Healthwatch Southampton

“We have had a loop system in branch for a number of years, which should always be regularly checked by our maintenance team. However When Lets Loop came in to check they found a few areas where this was not the case. It was hugely useful for us to get feedback so we could put it right as there is little point having the equipment if it is not working correctly. We were able to swiftly address the problems and get ourselves fully operational thanks to Lets Loops support. We hope customers who need this system find it useful and helpful and look forward to being able to welcome them to our shop.” – Adrian Young, John Lewis

“Let’s Loop highlighted a need for us to improve the loops that we had and to expand our coverage to different areas. Their help and advice was invaluable, and we are delighted that we are even more accessible for our visitors with a hearing loss condition. Thank you to Steve and the team!”Khali Parsons, Supporter Relations Manager, Southampton FC

“The ability to communicate is the most important of all human functions, and the inability to do so affects every aspect of people’s lives. Business’s, especially retail, depend for their very existence on communication and persuading customers to buy their goods. It is therefore astonishing that any business would choose to exclude potential customer that have hearing difficulties – especially when a proper loop system is such a low price item for any business – They are losing the spending power of these people. We champion those few businesses that have taken these issues seriously.”Ian Loynes, Chief Executive, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living

“I always encourage hearing aid wearers to use loop systems as they can make a big difference to someone’s ability to hear in a difficult listening environment. This was a timely and important project and I am delighted to see that it has already made a big impact locally and nationally.”Dr Victoria Watson PhD, Clinical Scientist (Audiology) ISVR, University of Southampton

“I would like to thank Let’s Loop and Healthwatch Southampton for this report. It is vital we support people with a hearing loss condition. That is why NHS Southampton City CCG has already set up a hearing loop in our building and I encourage more businesses to work with Let’s Loop and set up hearing loops.”John Richards, NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group

“This initiative can make such a difference for the experience of visiting the City and Go Southampton is fully committed to supporting this scheme and will help promote more businesses to consider a Loop system that will benefit their customers.”Spencer Bowman, Metricks Coffee and Go Southampton Vice Chair

About Healthwatch Southampton
Healthwatch Southampton is your voice in improving health and social care. Established in 2013 we have been working hard to improve patient and public voice and ensure services are listening and responding to our needs and ideas for improvement. We have three main aims:

  • To be an independent, influential and effective voice for the public
  • To provide an information, advice and signposting service
  • To provide independent health (NHS) complaints advocacy

Healthwatch Southampton relies on your views and experiences of health and social care services. We actively seek these in many ways – through surveys, community engagement and our online Feedback Centre. With this information we can then seek change either directly for individuals or for affected groups. We are recognised by health and social care services and have a track-record in getting change and improvement.

Who are Lets Loop Southampton?

Lets Loop is a voluntary group working in partnership with Healthwatch Southampton to educate those in Southampton of their duty to ensure premises are accessible to all. Our aim is to make Southampton the first City to be fully looped.

What is a Hearing Loop?

A hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting.

What does the law say about Hearing Loops?
The Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. In terms of accessibility, the Equality Act does require "reasonable adjustments" to be made when providing access to goods, facilities, services and premises. Accessible Information Standard The Accessible Information Standard aims to make sure that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need from health and care services. The Standard tells organisations how they should make sure that patients and service users, and their carers and parents, can access and understand the information they are given. This includes making sure that people get information in accessible formats. The Standard also tells organisations how they should make sure that people get support from a communication professional if they need it, and about changing working practices to support effective communication. By law (section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012), all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care must follow the Standard in full from 1st August 2016 onwards. BS8300 (2002) British Standard BS8300 is the code of practice for the design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. The standard recommends that: “a hearing enhancement system, using induction loop, infra-red or radio transmission, should be installed in rooms and spaces used for meetings, lectures, classes, performances, spectator sports or films, and used at service and reception counters where the background noise level is high or where glazed screens are used” (9.3.2). It pinpoints the following areas for consideration:
  • seated waiting areas
  • ticket sales and information points
  • fitness suites and exercise studios
  • churches; crematoria and cemetery chapels
  • educational, cultural and scientific buildings.
Copies of BS8300 can be viewed at your local reference library or purchased from the British Standards Institute, Customer Services Dept, 389 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4AL. Tel: +44 (0)20 8996 9000. Web: www.bsi-global.com Building Regulations Part M1: Access to and use of buildings (2000) Current building regulations for England and Wales state that newly erected or substantially reconstructed non-domestic buildings should make reasonable provision for people to gain access to and use their facilities (Requirement M1). In particular, the regulations state that reasonable "aids to communication’ should be provided for the hearing impaired in auditoria, meeting rooms, reception areas, ticket offices and at information points. One of the aims of Requirement M1 is to ensure all people can participate in proceedings at lecture/conference facilities and entertainment, leisure and social venues. According to the regulations, aids to communication will satisfy {part of} this requirement if ‘a hearing enhancement system is installed in rooms and spaces designed for meetings, lectures, classes, performances ... and at service or reception counters when they are situated in noisy areas or behind glazed screens’ (section 4.36/4.36b) The regulations acknowledge that a person with a hearing disability needs to receive a signal that is amplified in both volume and signal-to-noise ratio and that induction loop, infrared, radio and sound field systems can provide this advanced level of sound (section 4.35, Design Considerations). The Care Standards Act (2004) The Government’s new Care Standards Act demands that care homes in England provide certain adaptations and equipment for residents, including: "Facilities, including communication aids (e.g. a loop system), and signs to assist the needs of all service users, taking account of the needs, for example, of those with hearing impairment, visual impairment, dual sensory impairments, learning disabilities or dementia or other cognitive impairment, where necessary." (standard 22.6). These requirements apply to all care homes providing accommodation and nursing or personal care for older people in England. Regular inspections of homes and enforcement of the new legislation will be carried out by the new Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) which took over the social care functions previously carried out by the National Care Standards Commission on 1 April 2004.
Where can I get advice about installing a hearing loop?

We recommend contacting a loop specialist when considering installing, repairing or replacing a hearing loop. Reputable specialists should provide a free estimate on what system is right for your premises. Below is a list of organisations known to offer these services:

Deaf Awareness Technology www.deafawarenesstechnology.co.uk paul@deafawarenesstechnology.co.uk 01202682795 07969109992

Connevans  https://www.connevans.co.uk info@connevans.com 01737247571 Action on Hearing Loss https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/shop/ prteam@Hearingloss.org.uk 0808 808 0123