PEOPLE with hearing difficulties are being let down by Worcester businesses, according to a city charity.

Deaf Direct, based in Lowesmoor, Worcester, says the city is not deaf friendly and called for investment in hearing loops.

The devices help those with hearing aids to hear better, however only 13 per cent of city venues have them.

Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) said it was open to working with Deaf Direct to address the matter.

Hannah Cooper, training coordinator for Deaf Direct, said: "People's experiences at the moment are woeful.

"I think the misconception is that if a place is wheelchair friendly it's deaf friendly, but that's not the case.

"The city council could step in and help by helping to fund hearing loops."

She added that a deaf client recently struggled to return a pair of trainers because staff at the shop could not understand what they were saying.

Mrs Cooper said: "Businesses are responsible for thinking about their deaf customers. We know people will come back time and time again if they know a place is deaf friendly.

"The hearing loop transforms people's experiences. It amplifies everything so people have much greater clarity. They can hear easier in a room."

She added that the city also suffers from a lack of staff trained in British Sign Language.

Mrs Cooper argued that making people with hearing difficulties feel more welcome in Worcester would also provide a tourism boost.

She said people were willing to travel to deaf-friendly venues and said someone from Banbury recently made the trip to Deaf Direct's centre in Lowesmoor to take part in a playgroup for mothers and toddlers.

DisabledGo, a website specialising in disability access, surveyed 394 city premises, such as cafes and restaurants, and found that only 52 had hearing systems.

A spokesman for Worcester BID said: "We were not aware of any problems within the city but we would be happy to support Deaf Direct to engage with our businesses on the matter, should that be of interest."