2.1. Disability and Equality Awareness Training
All staff should have disability and equality awareness training, in conjunction with best-practice guidance or policy from DPOs. For an example of a useful and relevant policy paper, see VVI’s Accessible Communications Policy:
and Section 10 of the policy, “Real World Engagement by Staff”
2.2. Keeping an Eye Out.
In so far as is practicable for an institution, members of staff (e.g., security and customer service staff) should keep an eye out for visitors who appear to have particular navigational needs.
Where a person needs to be dropped off by vehicle closer to the centre than the nearest carpark, a member of staff should be able to wait with the disabled person being dropped off until the accompanying driver comes back (after parking the car), if that is the preferred way of doing things for the disabled visitor.
Ideally, a visually impaired person should have a personal guide provided by the institution, at no extra cost to them. This would facilitate independent solo visits – where such visits are afforded to our fully sighted counterparts. In the case of specialist knowledge, such as in museums or other types of exhibition sites, this may necessitate viewing by appointment.
Otherwise, however, in general, on arrival, a visually impaired person should be offered the availability of human guidance, where it appears that such assistance might be useful or required. If a visually impaired person declines such an offer, their wish should be respected.
Institutions and staff should be mindful that conventional queueing can be a particularly difficult and unequal/discriminatory process for visually impaired people. This is because we may find it difficult to know where the queue is, and our place in it, without having to constantly check with our long cane or hands. Even this checking, which is inconvenient for other people in the queue as well as for ourselves, does not necessarily tell us where the back of the queue is. Also, it is the experience of many of our members that the failure of a visually impaired person to move forward with the queue can be misinterpreted by others that they are not in the queue, and we end up being skipped again and again.
Similarly, any system that depends on someone catching the eye of an individual providing a service is generally inaccessible to a visually impaired person.
Staff should be aware of the probability that visually impaired people will find queueing inaccessible, and either have someone to assist us in the queue, or, where resources are inadequate, to allow the visually impaired person to skip the queue by guiding them to the direct point of service.
Where queueing depends on a system of ticketed numbers, a visually impaired person may not be able to either read their ticket or, in the case of visual displays, to be able to see when our number comes up. As such, staff should be in a position to keep an eye out to assist when the particular number comes up.
2.5. Artificial Background Noise.
The use of speakers to play music or provide audio for television etc., if used, should be at low volume levels. Where such sounds are too loud, it can be disorienting for visually impaired people, since the artificial sound can drown out useful audio cues from nautral ambient noise or feedback such as echoes.
2.6. Public Address Systems.
Similarly, public Address Systems should always be of sufficient volume and not be drowned out by background noise.