Adrian Nelms was born deaf with 35 to 40 per cent hearing. Despite the disability, the 29-year-old from Langney cuts an optimistic figure as he mingles with shoppers at the Asda store at The Crumbles in Sovereign Harbour where he has worked for almost 12 years.
“I love working here,” said Adrian, who works as a produce section leader.
“Asda have supporting me through my hearing and not discriminated against me one bit. In fact, we have got a couple of staff working in the store who are hearing-impaired and we are well looked after.”
Adrian doesn’t hide his disability. He wears a couple of shiny blue hearing aids which can be tuned into the store’s loop system. He also lip reads to help communication.
According to Hearing Link UK, Asda is one of the beacons of excellence in Eastbourne as part of their campaign, supported by the Eastbourne Herald, to have ensure more businesses and public buildings in the town have hearing loop systems installed and working.
The supermarket giant had a hearing loop system installed four years ago. Previously, Asda used a portable link to help shoppers with a hearing disability. Now, every other check-out has a hearing loop system installed which is well sign-posted.
The delicatessen counter, news and videos department, the George fashion section, the store kiosk, pharmacy and customer service sections are also looped up.
“Customer service is our DNA and we’re committed to making the shopping experience as easy as possible for our customers, especially when it comes to accessibility,” said an Asda spokesman.
“All of our stores are equipped with hearing loop systems that are regularly checked and all colleagues are trained on how to use this.
“Our Eastbourne store is a keen supporter of Hearing Link and its Let’s Loop Eastbourne initiative, and we’re pleased that our facilities have been given the thumbs up in its recent audit.”
Hearing Link recently carried out audits at a few Eastbourne supermarkets, praising Asda for their set-up. The Sainsbury’s stores at Cross Levels Way was criticised for poor staff awareness with no all the loops working.
There was no loop working at the Tesco Express in Hampden Park where the auditor was told “We don’t stock them.”
Theresa Parkinson, community colleague with Asda at The Crumbles store and customer service host, Julie Farrell, have worked hard to ensure the loops are regularly maintained.
“We regularly receive good feedback from customers who will always point out to us if there is an issue,” said Julie. “One shopper said that the hearing loops has opened up a whole new world for her.
“Nowadays all the supermarkets are offering good value and a wide range of products. What we are trying to do is to make the shopping experrience even better. Besides those with hearingdisabilities, we work with those in wheelchairs and blind shoppers.
“These are things which don’t get us noticed, no-one knows about what we do unless they need them.”
Thereas Parkinson added: “We always looking to improve our customer service, and if there is anything more we can do then we want shoppers to tell us.”