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Protective Screens Risk Denying Vital Services for Hearing Impaired


‘Intelligent use of protective screens needed to ensure inclusivity across all communities’

With the global health crisis continuing to throw daily life into disarray and the associated uncertainty creating an unprecedented level of anxiety, the latest government announcement has paved the way for more workers to return to employment in certain sectors. However, in an attempt to maximise the safety of employees and reduce the risk of a second wave of infections, employers across the UK are hastily installing safety measures which are inadvertently affecting the lives of those with hearing impairments.

By its nature, many of the most significantly impacted individuals with hearing loss are also some of the more vulnerable members of the UK’s communities. Whilst immediate measures to protect staff are a crucial part of a national recovery plan, little thought has been given to the impact of a nation-wide roll out of plastic screens in customer facing environments.

With approximately 12 million people in the UK suffering with hearing loss, a UK leader in specialist audio systems for the hearing impaired has raised concerns over the secondary impact of mass installation of screens at counters and customer service desks everywhere. Fife based, Clear Audio Systems spokesperson Martin McCloskey commented:

“We fully understand and support the critical efforts of business to protect staff and customers, however, the blanket use of plastic screens needs to come with a more intelligent approach. The large plastic barrier screens are a fantastic way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can also cause huge difficulties for those with hearing impairments.”

Martin McCloskey continued: “There are a number of really effective solutions available which will work in harmony with screens, to ensure those with hearing difficulties can still access vital services during the fight against the virus. It’s more important than ever to look after every member of our communities, right across the country.”

Clear Audio’s speech enhancement technology is designed to improve communication through speaking barriers such as protective screening. The highly effective system consists of a set of speakers and microphones to be installed either side of the protective screen for easy communication. The integral components in the speech enhancements systems have been researched designed and created in house using the experience and industry knowledge developed over 25 years, for a reliable solution, with reduced feedback, quick and easy installation and the very best user experience for the customers and staff.

For more information on the effective hearing solutions available to complement the use of protective screens, please visit the official website at www.clearaudiosystems.com

About Clear Audio Systems:

Clear Audio Systems was established in 1993 by company Chairman Tom McGregor when he identified a need for speech enhancement equipment when visiting a branch of his local bank. The Clear Audio Systems team have been at the forefront of speech enhancement systems and induction loop expertise from the development of the initial technology 25 years ago, to the systems you see in your banks and shops today. Our products are designed and built in the UK, with 25 years’ experience in the speech enhancement systems.

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BBC Sounds launch second season of Halloween podcast drama for visually impaired children


Sunday, 27th October 2019

BBC Sounds launch second season of Halloween podcast drama for visually impaired children

Once Upon a Time in Zombieville, the double award winning comedy podcast series for all the family is back! One hundred more minutes of mayhem, as our plucky heroes Jamie and Sam battle the Mad Moghul, the Bad Billionaire, Voom Buckstop in an effort to save the world.

Once Upon a Time in Zombieville is a comic book for the ears! Featuring lead characters with visual impairment and dyslexia, Zombieville is for those who might struggle to read, but still love to listen to a great story. Zombieville is for everyone who ever stood up to, or needs to stand up to a bully.

Season 2 expands upon this theme, with even greater challenges to our young heroes. Over 10 brand new episodes more quirky characters are introduced, broadening and enriching our young heroes’ world and deliver another sweet high-stacked pile of adventure that will champion diversity and empowerment in a world increasingly fraught with intolerance, xenophobia and deliberate falsehoods. Is the truth out there?

But, whilst the gory tale is perfect for dark, spooky evenings, the podcast series – brainchild of production company Bigmouth Audio – isn’t just a spooky tale for Halloween, it’s aiming to change the way production companies approach content for children.

The comedy-horror audio cartoon has been developed alongside the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), creating a rich, immersive experience for both sighted and visually impaired listeners alike.

Bigmouth Audio Founder and Managing Director Stephen Scott, explains: “As specialists in sound for animation we’ve worked extensively with clients in children’s media but, over the years, it’s become apparent that very little original content is being developed that could work for both a mainstream and visually impaired audience.

“The small percentage of content that is available is work that has simply been overdubbed or audio described; we were really keen to find a way to change that, without losing any of the production value.

“We wanted the sound to resemble that of an animated feature film – a cartoon for the ears – that could enable visually and non-visually impaired children to enjoy the same piece of content on a shared level.”

Fictional stories such as Once Upon a Time in Zombieville can also be a great way of helping children to explore real life situations that they need help to deal with, and learn to empathise with others.

Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have found that the brain activity that occurs when we read or listen to fictional stories is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, enhancing the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions.

And so, whilst Once Upon a Time in Zombieville is a fun-filled, entertainment cartoon to keep kids gripped throughout, the series has been developed to include a number of real-life situations children may have to deal with, from absent parents to bullying, making the right decisions, understanding dyslexia, and friendships, opening up opportunities for discussion and debate.

But, while Zombieville started life as a teaching tool on BBC School Radio the team at Bigmouth Audio hope that it will prove just as popular in the home, by releasing season 1 & 2 for free on the BBC Sounds app & iTunes for families to enjoy this November (10th November) with a teaser trailer going out on Halloween (Thursday 31st October).

Stephen added: “Zombieville was created with strong educational values, offering an inclusive experience for both sighted and visually impaired children, but we knew we would lose the audience if it wasn’t first and foremost a gripping story.

“Unlike most children’s content the show is serialised meaning there is a story arc reaching across the whole series. There’s a healthy dose of weird and spooky antics, making it perfect for this time of year, but we’ve also got some great comedy moments in every 10 minute episode. Plus, each episode has a cliff-hanger ending, to add to the drama and keep audiences on the edge of their seats.”

So, as the dark nights draw in, why not light a candle, curl up under a blanket and treat yourself to an evening in Zombieville.

Once Upon a Time in Zombieville is free to download on BBC Sounds & Apple Podcasts. Season 2 will be available from November 10th 2019. Catch the trailer on Halloween!

For more information about Once Upon a Time in Zombieville, or to find out more about Bigmouth Audio, please visit: www.bigmouthaudio.com

· Once Upon a Time in Zombieville can be downloaded for free on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/once-upon-a-time-in-zombieville/id1301500440?mt=2

· Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have found that the brain activity that occurs when we read or listen to fictional stories is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, enhancing the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions – for further information, please see Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind, David Comer Kidd, Emanuele Castano: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/10/02/science.1239918?sid=f192d0cc-1443-4bf1-a043-61410da39519

Bigmouth Audio

· Bigmouth Audio – a voice production management company, is committed to providing producers of animated content with a superior, dedicated bespoke voice production & dubbing service

· Based in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, and delivering a service to a global audience, Bigmouth Audio’s clients include Netflix, Mattel, Universal Pictures, Fox and Sony

· Founded in 2012, and built on a belief that animation audio is more important than ever before, Bigmouth Audio specialise in voice production management and voice dubbing for animation and video games industries.

· Bigmouth Audio is based at 78a Stanley Street, Glasgow, G41 1JH. For more details, please visit www.bigmouthaudio.com

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