Supporting your Members
In the advice section of the Third Age Trust website you will find Supporting your members which has advice on Supporting Members with Vision Loss, Supporting Members with Hearing Loss and Accessibility for Disabled Members
U3APlus has recently been formed to support, help and advise U3As so they can ensure that members with impairments and disabilities can enjoy all aspects of their membership.
Raising awareness of the different challenges and offering practical solutions is vital. The advice will be for all levels of U3A; for members with an impairment so they can feel confident to ask for assistance when needed; and for U3As to have the best advice so that they in turn can give constructive and positive support.
U3APlus will be developing over the coming months including a new website and U3As will be kept informed as it happens.
Any queries please email U3A Plus
Deaf Awareness Group
There is a dedicated website for the Deaf Awareness Group
Statistics about hearing loss
Over 50s Mild loss 21.6%
Over 70s Mild loss 26.7% an increase of 23.6%
Moderate 36.8% an increase of 119%
Severe 6.3%` an increase of 133%
Profound 1.3% an increase of 117%
To summarise - 71.1% of the UK population aged over 70 suffer some form of hearing loss. Could this statistic be replicated among U3As or are those with hearing impairments already isolating themselves because they can’t cope with everyday life?
Asking for help is the most difficult thing to do so we must all SPEAK UP for our friends and fellow members.
No U3A can solve all problems for everyone but each U3A can make members feel included for longer.
General or Lecture Meetings
• All of the advice for Groups fits here with regard to speakers and location
• If there is a microphone, insist that it is used. The loop system will not operate without the microphone. Advertise the fact that there is a loop system.
• Tell those with hearing aids that they must check that their own system is set for loop use – this is not always done at the beginning but it is an easy job for the provider to do.
• Personal loop enhancers (worn like a collar) will improve loop systems for an individual
• All public rooms should now be provided with a loop system, use it. Get someone who uses a hearing aid with a T setting to check it, it’s the only way to do this. NOTE - a Loop Testing Kit is available, it costs about £50 and simulates the reception a deaf person would receive through a hearing aid.
• A lapel mic is much better than a hand-held one
• Advise each speaker of possible hearing problems, explain what helps and ask for supporting visuals.
• Use a roving mic for questions to the speaker: ask speaker to repeat questions if unclear
C. General Communications
• Support the spoken word with paper copies, on-line information, e-mails.
• Remember that severely or profoundly deaf members can use voice-recognition software
• Make sure Group Leaders can be contacted by e-mail as well as telephone.
3. Who drives change in a U3A?
• Is it the Committee, Group Leaders or the members? Could it be YOU?
• Change normally comes because of an individual with a strong belief in a cause. ‘Pester Power’ was mentioned.
• If YOU are a member with a problem then SPEAK UP or ask someone to SPEAK UP for you
• All members must try to be aware and tolerant and to SPEAK UP on behalf of others
4. Where next? Third Age Trust has formed a Deaf Awareness Group (DAG) – could you do the same?
• Consider a Deaf Awareness/Action/Access Group – define its purpose and membership
• It could be for members with hearing loss to discuss equipment, personal concerns and solutions, possibly Lip Reading. It could sign-post members to other organisations where they might receive further help. It could encourage speakers on topics of specific interest.
• It could be for anyone who has an interest in making U3A inclusive and might discuss concerns, solutions (see above) or simply driving change for the benefit of everyone. So this type of group might be formed of members, their friends or relations, group leaders. The group could investigate loop systems, costs and funding.
• It could identify situations or groups where hearing is a problem (one profoundly deaf U3A member says that he can no longer go on walks)
NOTES FOR SPEAKERS AT MONTHLY MEETINGS – John Newton DAG and Buxton U3A
You can assume that a typical u3a audience will include a significant number with some hearing loss who will follow your words by a combination of normal hearing, helped by their hearing aid if they have one and reading your lips. Here’s how to make sure they hear you, assuming that you are using a PA system or an induction loop or both.
A lapel Microphone is best, if you are using any other kind hold it close to your chin but not so as to obscure your lips, keep the distance fixed and speak normally. Keep your voice level as even as you can.
Face the audience, speak clearly and keep reasonably still. If you need to move, don’t talk while you are moving.
Check that everyone can hear you and see you.
If you are using projected visual aids have your monitor in front of you so as to avoid turning your back on the audience to look at the screen.
If you invite questions from the audience some of them will not be able to hear the question from the floor, repeat the question before answering it.
If you are using a printed text as part of your presentation, consider offering copies for those who need them.