Deaf Travel24th May 2015

Subtitles for Deaf Travellers - Is It Really Too Much To Ask

With only little snippets of progress, Deaf Travel still involves a lot of inequality

by Wendy Bebb-Sutton

As Deaf travellers we rarely enjoy all of the facilities provided to other holiday makers. If, like me, you give feedback afterwards, you will hope that the next time you travel you will see that your comments have been listened to and improvements made. One of the simple things I regularly comment on is the lack of subtitles and having given that feedback the last time I travelled, I hoped to see improvements.

Having just returned from my latest holidays with my hearing partner, I thought I would share my observations. A few weeks ago we left home in South Wales heading for the Hilton Metropole, very close to Birmingham airport. The last time we stayed at this particular hotel was around nine months previously. We left our car in their secure car park,  whilst we jetted off to sunnier climbs. Facilities at the Hilton are very good, indeed the rooms are very comfortable, but my first question was whether management would have dealt with the issue I brought to their attention during my last visit. Once we were unpacked and ready to chill, on went the television. Annoyingly, no subtitles yet again......... Did I make the journey down to reception to ask why not? No, much to my partners disdain, I accepted that as a Deaf person I wasn't going to be provided with the same privileges as a hearing guest. A big black mark Hilton Hotels, I would have liked to indulge in the pastime of a television film the same as your other guests could, but you seem intent on preventing that.

Early the next morning, we got into a taxi bound for the airport terminal. After the compulsory wander through duty free lounges we eventually boarded our flight on the new Thomson Dreamliner plane, bound for Jamaica. Wow what a fabulous new plane, windows that were 30% bigger, mood lighting, tasty inflight meals................ but.......... best of all, inflight entertainment with subtitles. Wow, I was seriously  impressed. Since our flight was almost ten hours, subtitles were going to be fantastic. Like all other passengers, I thought I would be able to immerse myself in any number of films. Eeeek!!!!!! Stop right there, it seems that only films sporting an 's' in the brochure had subtitles. OK, I am not greedy, in fact perhaps I was a little too willing to accept the second class citizen role again, but hey, any films were better than none. So, there were 24 films in the in-flight entertainment, which are divided between outward and homeward journeys. Out of the 24, just 4 had subtitles. Unfortunately, I had seen one of the films the week before at the cinema, so that narrowed it down to 3. A small thank you to Thomson, for the first time ever I was equal with hearing passengers, well almost! As old school reports used to say, "must try harder".

Arriving in Jamaica we were taken by coach for a short journey to Montego Bay, where we boarded our cruise ship, the Thomson Dream. This ship would be our home for a while as we travelled to various countries in central America. We had holidayed the year before on the same cruise ship. It has spacious cabins, friendly staff and quite a relaxed atmosphere. So, once more I posed the question, was there subtitles on the television  in my cabin……..NO!...... Folks, I am not a TV addict, but to be given the same opportunities as all the hearing passengers would indeed be nice.

I am sure most of us get those annoying little questionnaires to complete at the end of a holiday. Do we complete them, maybe not, but there is a free raffle if you complete the form. So for 14 years, I have religiously put ticks in various boxes. Question - Do you have any comments to help us improve our customer care? For 14 years I have told Thomson about the need to provide subtitles for Deaf customers. Thomson you are making progress, there were at least some in flight films that I could enjoy. But come on, push a little further and give equality to all your travellers,deaf and hearing alike, after all we all pay the same holiday costs.

Article by Wendy Bebb-Sutton

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Deaf Travel

24th May 2015