The Howgate Shopping Centre to turn off music at Falkirk facility to support elderly visitors
The Howgate Shopping Centre in Falkirk is participating in a Turn Down the Volume initiative to help older people feel comfortable when visiting its stores.
The High Street premises will turn off piped music in the venue each Thursday morning in recognition of the project, developed by the Scottish Older People’s Association and Quiet Scotland.
Research by the organisations has found one in every six pensioners is affected by hearing or sight loss and lacks confidence to ask for help or advice in stores as they’re worried they won’t be able to hear the answers or will look silly.
The Howgate’s announcement coincided with Deaf Awareness Week 2021 (May 4-May 9).
Margaret Foy, The Howgate marketing manager, said: “As we emerge from lockdown, it’s vital we support all customers to ensure they can enjoy the centre to shop, meet friends or access services so the mall music will be turned off every Thursday from 9am-12pm to support customers who find this distressing.”
The centre previously pledged its support to an Access for All campaign and hosts a Sensory Shopping day on the first Sunday of every month to assist those who might struggle with background music or loud noises.
Its latest pledge has been welcomed by Forth Valley Sensory Centre (FVSC).
Jacquie Winning, FVSC chief executive, said: “We have worked with The Howgate staff on a number of occasions and applaud their stance on helping people with disabilities, especially sensory loss, in Falkirk.
“Accessibility remains an issue for many blind, partially sighted, deaf and hard of hearing people all across Scotland and lockdown has been especially hard on this already isolated group.
“This year, Deaf Awareness Week has the theme ‘coming through it together’. It doesn’t always feel like that for people with hidden or not immediately obvious disabilities.
“Changes like this show that the challenges for those with hearing impairments are being taken seriously and we know the move will be welcomed by centre users and many others.
“With restrictions easing and stores wanting to woo shoppers, simple measures like this, to make more people feel welcome in stores, are just what is needed.”
Forth Valley Sensory Centre has issued the following advice for businesses or organisations when speaking to and serving deaf customers:
- If a customer does not look at you when you are speaking, they may be deaf, don’t panic, be patient.
- Try to find another way to communicate with a person who has made it clear they can’t understand you.
- It’s not illegal to remove your mask, you won’t get in trouble.
- Write things down for the customer.
- Some people may have difficulty seeing, be prepared to write larger if asked.
- Point to the amount on the till so the customer knows what to pay.
- Maintain eye contact when speaking.
For more information and advice on help with sight or hearing impairments, visit www.forthvalleysensorycentre.org or follow @FVSensoryCentre on social media.
Visit www.howgateshoppingcentre.co.uk for opening times and store details or follow @howgateshopping on Facebook and Twitter.