For those who are hard of hearing there is one less thing to be anxious about when they attend their vaccination appointment at Epsom Racecourse because the site boasts a hearing loop. The loop was installed by Surrey Coalition of Disabled People  and resides in ‘Pod 1’ which is earmarked as the pod for people who may need reasonable adjustments or additional support. 

Surrey Coalition of Disabled People are a not-for-profit organisation with members living across Surrey and North East Hampshire.  Their members are adults with a disability or long term health condition and unpaid/family carers.  They are led by disabled people for disabled people. 

Members are pleased to hear that a hearing loop is in place.  Clare Burgess, Chief Executive, Surrey Coalition of Disabled People said “ This is essential for people to feel safe – because if you are unable to hear or understand the consent process then you don’t know what is happening and you also don’t know what side effects to look out for.  It must have been an awful experience for people not to be able to hear what someone is saying, especially about something as important as their health.  Our members who are Hard of Hearing often find inaccessibility to be a huge barrier in accessing health services”. 

The Coalition also lent the Covid vaccination site a tablet with Google live transcribe installed on it, to aid anyone with a hearing impairment or other communication difficulty. Easy read resources and information leaflets in a range of formats are also displayed in ‘Pod 1’. 

Clare Burgess said, “We are working with a range of partners to lead a project to address digital exclusion.  Disabled people, people with a long term health condition, unpaid family carers, older people and people from BAME groups are all at an increased risk of being digitally excluded.  Covid-19 has exacerbated this problem, and digital exclusion is a health inequality due to the increasing digitisation of services and support. 

“We are working on a project called Tech to Community Connect and this project is currently on offer in East Surrey (CRESH) and Surrey Downs ICP areas, with an outreach project launching shortly in parts of North West Surrey.  

Tech to Community Connect has two target outcomes:

  • To reduce digital exclusion 
  • To reduce loneliness and social isolation

The service is made up of four parts:

  1. The provision of a device
  2. A ‘match’ with a volunteer Tech Angel and a training and support package
  3. Access to a programme of virtual groups and activities
  4. The opportunity to join the project as a virtual volunteer

“Some people access all four elements of the project, some people just access one or two – for example, some people have a device but they need the support of a volunteer Tech Angel to improve their digital literacy and confidence enough to learn how to use it.  The Tech Angels agree a plan with each participant and work through various modules or help with a specific task.

Some of the modules on offer include things like staying safe online, accessing health services (learning how to book a GP appointment online, how to access NHS 111 online and more), online shopping, entertainment, accessing video conferencing and more!”

For more information

To find out more about Tech to Community Connect: