O2 store on Tottenham Court Road aims to improve service for D/deaf people, and those living with sight loss

O2 and Telenomics today unveil the steps taken at the new O2 store at 229 Tottenham Court Road to improve services for people with sensory needs, and offer in-store expert advice on the benefits that specific mobile devices and applications can provide.

Staff have received detailed training from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), manufacturers such as Apple and RIM, and application developers such as Code Factory. This allows them to recognise and recommend specific smartphone features and functions, as well as applications that can aid and improve the lives of those with sensory needs.

All staff have also received Sight Loss Awareness training from RNIB, and Deaf Awareness training from Positive Signs, a Deaf Led Consultancy, Training and Communication Services business. Positive Signs have also been a critical partner in the recruitment of Abigail, the first ever O2 Guru who is Deaf and fluent in BSL. Abigail is available to help customers choose a mobile phone and understand how it works, as well as answer questions about their account.

Simon Davis, O2’s Head of Corporate Responsibility said: ‘At O2 we want to make sure that everyone can enjoy our products and services. We understand that for older or disabled customers, finding the right mobile phone and navigating its functions can be difficult. By offering in-store, expert advice at our new store in the heart of London, we’re looking forward to providing a better experience to our customers with sensory needs.’

The store is run by Telenomics Ltd, an O2 franchise business founded in 2007 by Amar Radia, Adarsh Radia and Asad Hamir, who said: ‘The smartphones and applications that are available today can make such a difference to people’s lives, helping increase independence and confidence for those with sensory needs. We therefore want to make these devices as accessible as possible to the sight loss and D/deaf communities by ensuring we are fully able to recommend and demonstrate relevant handsets and applications, and by offering the best level of service that we can. This includes educating our staff on the devices and applications available, putting them through Sight Loss and Deaf Awareness training, and having a member of staff who is fluent in BSL.’

Robin Spinks, RNIB Principal Manager of Digital Accessibility, said: ‘RNIB is delighted to be working with O2 to enhance its offering to customers with sight loss. It’s great that a leading company like O2 understand that inclusive customer service makes great business sense. We are also pleased to be hosting some of our monthly, interactive RNIB Phone Watch events at the store, allowing blind or partially sighted people to experience the latest innovations in accessible mobile technology across all platforms. These events also provide an opportunity for dialogue between networks, device makers and consumers, as well as providing a forum for national and international companies to test and preview new accessibility products and services.’

The store is also equipped with portable hearing loops and personal listeners to allow hard of hearing people and those with a hearing aid to hear conversations more clearly at desks or while moving around the store, for example to look at different handsets. The store also features a lift to allow people to easily access the lower level, and RNIB have provided consultancy on areas where accessibility can be improved moving forward.

As well as continually working to improve services for people with sensory needs, the O2 store will also be working to provide advice and services for people with motor and learning difficulties in the future.