Deaf woman turned away from Go Ape adventure site

A deaf woman claims she was wrongly discriminated against during a visit to a Cannock Chase outdoor adventure site.

Deaf woman turned away from Go Ape adventure site

Leanne Stead, 24, from Wolverhampton, was turned away from the Go Ape adventure site as workers classed her being deaf as a 'physical disability', ruling that she couldn't use the sites facilities.

Despite booking in advance and making the 40-minute journey to the attraction, Mrs Stead and her friend Muna, who is also deaf, were told they couldn't use the zip-wires and other attractions.

A complaint she wrote to the company on Facebook went viral, with more than 150 shares in a few hours as people showed their support.

Mrs Stead said: "We are absolutely fuming at Go Ape.

"We booked and paid in advance to have this fun filled day at Cannock Chase and have been turned away because we are deaf.

"In their policy it stated physical disability as an example of blind people, wheelchair user, and poor limbs.

"Not a word about deaf people.

"We are well bodied people who can do physical activities.

"We are well educated independent adults.

"We argued and said that we felt discriminated against their decision and they still insisted on not letting us to go on it.

"We don't even need our ears to hold on a rope for god sake."

She also believes that the timing of the incident, during National Deaf Awareness Week, doesn't bode well for the company.

She said: "I feel that the staff should educate themselves on the difference between a physical disability and well bodied deaf people.

"Upon our arrival, we felt offended with the fact that a member of staff used visual impairment as an example of why deaf people cannot go on it."

The company have refunded Mrs Stead and apologised.

They have also refunded her for the visit.

The apology reads: "Complaints of this nature are rare so we'd like to investigate this further with our team at Cannock.

"We are sorry that the situation was not handled to your satisfaction and that your visit was spoiled.

"We believe that every customer should have a great time and we are disappointed to hear that this wasn't the case."

Today, Tristram Mayhew, Go Ape's co-founder, said: "I am so sorry that we failed Leanne and Muna by not being able to accommodate them on this occasion on our tree top adventure course. I can imagine how disappointed I would have felt in their shoes.

"Our team need to be able to call out safety critical instructions from the ground, which was why it was decided on the day that Leanne and Muna would not be safe without being accompanied by someone who could hear for them. Unfortunately, as we didn't have advance notice that they were deaf, we didn't have an additional instructor who could accompany them on the course, which we have laid on for deaf participants in the past.

"We are reviewing all our procedures and communications to ensure we make deaf participants feel as welcome and valued as all of our customers. In the mean time we have refunded Leanne and Muna and have invited them back. I very much hope that they will assist us with their ideas and suggestions on how we can make Go Ape as accessible to all in future."

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