Making events accessible
Choosing a venue: Background noise
When inspecting the venue be aware of background noise such as:
- central heating/air-conditioning
- heavy traffic and sirens,
- railways running nearby
- canteen and kitchen noises
- other delegates using different rooms
A barrier is created wherever other sounds compete with those you are meant to be tuned in to. Background noise can be a barrier to inclusion during the event for many different people who use services. For example, background noise makes it difficult for people who have a speech impairment as it makes it more difficult for others to hear them; it might cause distress for people who hear voices; some hearing aids will tune into the background noise, and for people with a visual impairment who cannot pick up on non-verbal communication, background noise can be a disabling distraction.
One service user suggested:
Don't have different workshops going on in one room – it gets noisy and hard to make yourself heard. Probably not good for people with hearing impairments either.
It is also worth noting that this is not just an issue about noise production but also about the venue’s acoustics. This is particularly likely to be a problem in food areas which are often full of hard surfaces that are designed for cleanliness and cause maximum reverberations. The problem can be reduced by introducing textiles such as wall coverings, tablecloths, etc. where possible.