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Cafe applauded for its work with deaf customers
7:40am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
A CAFE in Malvern 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 has been named by disability charity, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, as an ideal spot for people with the canine companions to stop for a cup of tea or a bite to eat .
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.
But 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,”
“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 gained 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 was so impressed she came back all the way from Coventry with her husband, her sister and her sister’s husband because they knew I’d be there to help them out.”
Under the Equality Act 2010 business owners are required by law to treat disabled customers the same way they would treat any other.
William Stavert regularly visits the Bluebird Tearooms and said he had often faced problems when visiting other cafes and restaurants with his hearing dog, miniature poodle Archie.
“Last week, 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 café they told me Archie couldn’t come in.
“They let me in after I showed him my card with the law on it but they weren’t happy about it.”
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is currently running a campaign called Who Lets the Dogs In?, encouraging business owners to be aware of their obligations around assistance dogs.
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