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Blog: The road to nowhere

A couple of months ago I was asked by Hearing Link to find out about roadside assistance, specifically provision by breakdown companies for hard of hearing (HoH) and D/deaf customers.

Let’s be really clear (for those who don’t understand the necessity of having a HoH and D/deaf breakdown service). If, like me, you have a hearing condition and your car breaks down, you may not be able to have a phone conversation to get roadside assistance. If you can’t get help you risk being stranded on the hard shoulder or in the middle of nowhere – a frightening and dangerous situation.

So yes, we need to be able to communicate with our breakdown service quickly and safely. You would think that in this era of text services, apps and the internet, companies would have thought about this and set up the right communication support. But this is not necessarily what I have found.

An internet search resulted in me easily identifying the 10 (so-called) “best roadside assistance providers”. I took a bit of time to explore their websites, looking for information about HoH and D/deaf customers.

Let me be honest … none of the websites presented the information I was looking for in a clear and logical way. I only managed to retrieve something useful due to sheer perseverance and unorthodox usage of their search boxes. After a few hours trawling through cryptic and labyrinthine websites, I managed to identify two companies who said they provided services for people who may struggle with a phone conversation – the RAC and the AA. Both companies seemed to be offering contact via Relay UK, Typetalk and text and, based upon testimonies collected by HoH clubs, this works marvellously well.

As for the eight other companies, I may have learnt a lot about their fidelity points, reward cards, discounts on cross channel trips, et tutti quanti, but about services for HoH and D/deaf persons – nothing! Not even a speckle! Never mind, I thought, I’ll send an email to them and see what they say.

I received two answers. GEM Motoring Assist told me they provide a “dedicated mobile number for texting should assistance to breakdown be required” and a UK relay service and online assistance via their website. Well, why don’t they publicise that on their website I thought? The other reply was a short mail informing me that my request had been passed to the marketing department.

And that’s it. I am still waiting for the marketing service to get in touch, and for the other six companies to reply. They could have at least dignified me with an answer…

All of this has left me feeling frustrated and disappointed. I would like to point out to these companies that one person in six is affected by hearing loss (i.e. 12 million people). You don’t need a degree in business to understand that it makes financial sense for hearing loss friendly companies to engage with us and provide breakdown services that everyone else takes for granted.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Hearing Link Services or Hearing Dogs for Deaf People unless explicitly stated.

Emmanuelle Ding

Emmanuelle DingEmmanuelle is a Hearing Link volunteer supporting our Helpdesk and Community Support beneficiaries.