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Malvern cafe praised for helping the deaf
A CAFE said to be a favourite of composer Edward Elgar has been applauded for its accessibility to people with hearing dogs.
The Bluebird Tearooms in Church Street, Malvern, has been named an ideal spot for people with the canine companions to stop for a cup of tea or a bite to eat by disability charity Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
A recent study by the charity found more than 80 per cent of deaf people and their faithful assistants had been denied access to high street shops, while more than 55 per cent have been barred from entering restaurants, with many owners citing health and safety reasons as justification for not letting them in.
Bluebird Tearooms owner Barry Daws, who holds a level six qualification in British Sign Language, said he had been keen to support deaf customers.
“I’ve been interested in deaf issues for some time and the staff are deaf-aware because of my interest in the community,”
he said. “Deaf people I know, or know of me, know that I’m here so this is a place they can come.”
He said the business, which has been on Church Street for a century, had a reputation for being friendly to people with hearing problems.
“There was one lady from Coventry who came in a little while ago to ask if we were still open and I could tell she was a bit deaf as she was signing so I started signing back at her,” he said.
“She came back all the way from Coventry with her husband, her sister and her sister’s husband because they knew I’d help them out.”
William Stavert regularly visits the tearooms and said he had often faced problems when visiting other cafes and restaurants with his hearing dog, miniature poodle Archie.
“I went to a posh restaurant in Liverpool and they said it was OK for Archie to come in but they put me in a corner away from everyone else,” he said. “I also went to London recently and wanted to get some breakfast but when I tried to go into the cafe they told me Archie couldn’t come in.”
HEARING DOGS FACT FILE
- Hearing dogs alert their owners to sounds such as an alarm clock, doorbell, telephone or smoke alarm by touching them with their paw or nudging with a nose.
- The owner then asks them “what is it?” by voice or with a hand signal and the dog will lead them to the source of the sound. If it is a danger signal such as a smoke alarm they will lie down instead.
- Breeds most commonly trained as hearing dogs are labradors, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, miniature poodles and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
- Training takes about 18 months.
- There are more than 750 working hearing dogs in the UK.
- Hearing dogs are recognisable by burgundy jackets and lead slips, making onlookers aware of the owner’s hearing problems, which would otherwise be “invisible”.
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