Hearing the Accessibility Message

Karen Perry leaning against a wall holding Hearing Loop notification cardsFor most people going to the movies, catching a train or visiting the local council office isn’t something that’s thought twice about. However, for people with a hearing impairment, it can be a very different and sometimes challenging experience.

It’s a challenge that Karen Perry, a North West Alliance Linker with lived experience of hearing impairment, knows all too well, and something she is trying to change.

“I’ve been to training days where I’ve been unable to hear, I’ve missed a plane because the boarding gate was changed and I didn’t hear it and I’ve gotten off a train at the wrong station and had to go all the way back to where I came from,” Karen explains.

Through her role with Ability Links, Karen works with local and regional businesses, as well as community groups to increase their capacity to support people with hearing impairments.

Karen’s work has led to the regional airport planning to install hearing stations and loops, a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids.

“When I spoke to airport management, they looked at it very favourably,” Karen says.

“I explained the issues that I faced each day and the expected benefits of hearing loops for people with a hearing impairment.”

Karen says she’s also had other great results with the local cinema, museum and conference venues.

“It’s about changing mindsets and ways of thinking.”

As for the future, Karen says she has some big organisations in her sights when it comes to improving accessibility and says she will continue to work with people using her lived experience to encourage others to keep going.

“Who better to help a person with a disability than someone who has one themselves?”