Janice Schacter Lintz, a hearing loss advocate from the USA visited several South African museums recently and was appalled to find that all were not accessible to people with hearing loss.
Commenting on her visits to the District Six Museum, Hector Pietersen Museum, the Apartheid Museum, the Kliptown Open Air Museum and Robben Island Museum, Shachter noted that:
• Video and films were generally not hearing aid compatible and only a few were captioned;
• People with hearing loss are unable to hear multiple speaking at the same time. Mechanisms such as hearing aid compatible Soundstix, which bring the sound directly to the ear, were not available in any of the museums visited;
• Sound domes were generally not hearing aid compatible;
• Transcripts of audio information were not generally available;
• The availability of Sign language interpretation was not postec in any of the museums visited;
• Spoken commentary by guides was generally inaudible and assistive listening systems such as induction loops or personal FM system with head sets or neck loops were not available;
• Devices such as induction loops, which are compatible with most hearing aids, and may be used in public spaces such as ticket offices, to amplify sound unobtrusively, are not generally fitted in South African museums.
• Museum staff members were sometimes ill-informed and insensitive to the challenges faced by those with hearing loss.