It is estimated that around 11 million people in the UK are living with some degree of hearing impairment. That’s one is six of us, which suggests that you are close to somebody living with the condition – whether it’s a friend, a family member or a work colleague.
Although it’s estimated that this statistic may increase over the next fifteen to twenty years, help is thankfully at hand. A number of charitable bodies are doing fantastic work throughout the UK to assist those living with deafness to enjoy a quality of life unencumbered by disability.
Hearing Impairment in Children
50,000 British children are believed to be living with hearing impairment. Half of these children will have been born deaf, with the other half losing their hearing from an accident or an illness such as Rubella.
Naturally, this can impact directly on children’s ability to learn; speaking and listening are at the cornerstone of early education. If you are concerned about the hearing of a child, there are a number of sources that can provide guidance and support.
- Registered charity Cochlear reveal the warning signs of deafness in children and the impact it will have, in addition to offering advice on the next steps that should be taken.
- Scope offers plenty of advice on how to help a deaf child to reach their full potential.
- The National Deaf Children’s Society has a wealth of information, including tips for schools to assist deaf children, in addition to acting as a pivotal support source.
- Hear-It offer some audio tests that will offer an insight into how it feels to live with hearing loss for a child, as well as plenty of advice.
Hearing Impairment in the Elderly
Naturally it’s not just the young that struggle with hearing impairment – deafness is often associated with the elderly population as our senses begin to fade as we grow older.
The UK has a number of charitable bodies and organisations dedicated to assisting the elderly with hearing loss. With almost half of all adults over the age of 50 experiencing some degree of hearing loss, these resources deserve our support.
- Action on Hearing Loss, formerly known as the Royal Institute for the Deaf, offer advice to employees and visitors to residential care homes.
- Age UK and the Royal Voluntary Service offer insights into the warning signs of hearing loss, and what action should be taken in such an event.
- The NHS can offer insight into how to get a hearing aid should this assistance be required.
While the use of subtitles and closed captions are becoming increasingly prevalent to assist anybody living with a hearing impairment and viewing a screen, sign language remains a hugely popular method of communication among the deaf community.
Sign language was acknowledged as an official language in the UK as of 2013, and there are a number of resources online for anybody looking to learn more about this critical form of interaction.
- The British Sign Language Dictionary is a must-bookmark for anybody in regular contact with a member of the deaf community. It may also be advisable for anybody that regularly interacts with the deaf to master the fingerspelling alphabet.
- Signature is a body that offers support to hearing impaired and their loved ones, including qualifications in sign language.
- The Institute of British Sign Language is an invaluable source of information.
- Deafsign is a one-stop location for all matters relating to sign language and communication with the hearing impaired.
Employment Support for the Hearing Impaired
The rights if any employee to be treated fairly and without discrimination by protected by the Equality Act of 2010, ensuring that hearing impairment should not prevent anybody struggling with full or partial deafness to find and retain a job.
In addition to this legal legislature, there are also a number of resources that offer support to employees that struggle with their hearing.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau have plenty of tips on how to find work as a hearing impaired person, and what rights you will be entitled to once you have done so.
- Clarion UK is a charity dedicated to assisting the deaf in the workplace, offering advice and support to both employees and employers.
- Deaf Unity is a charity that specialises in support for the deaf, including employment rights. They even have their own job search portal.
- Even Break work tirelessly with employers and employees with a variety of disabilities, including deafness, to ensure that hearing impairment is no impediment to finding work.
It’s no secret that those living with visual impairment can enjoy the company and assistance of a guide dog, but are you aware that the deaf can also seek the help of a hearing dog?
Canines have a sense of hearing up to twice as strong as an adult, making hearing dogs hugely beneficial to anybody struggling with deafness or any other form of hearing impairment.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People have been training support animals to act as assistance animals for the hearing impaired for over 35 years – even if you do not require their services, you can always sponsor a puppy to help somebody who does.
Charities Offering Home Support the Hearing Impaired
Whilst it is still possible to enjoy a high quality of life while living with hearing impairment, there will still be an adjustment required if deafness is caused suddenly by an illness, or if the individual lives alone.
- Helping Hands is a nursing and care company that offers live-in or visiting support from a team of empathetic, trained nurses that will be able to assist ant deaf person from the comfort of their own home.
- Supported living and housing is a service offered by Action on Hearing Loss.
In addition to the many and varied services listed above, the UK has a number of charities that specialise in assisting the deaf and hearing impaired. These include:
- The British Deaf Association, who offer help and information on all matters connected to hearing impairment.
- CODA, which stands Children of Deaf Adults, offers help to young people without hearing impairment being raised by deaf parents or guardians.
- Signhealth campaign tirelessly for the rights of the deaf, often working alongside the NHS.
- Deafblind work with people of all ages that suffer visual impairment in addition to hearing loss.
A number of different locations and websites have been sourced throughout this article. Please see below for a list that provides ease of reference.
- Action on Hearing Loss – actiononhearingloss.org.uk
- Age UK – ageuk.org.uk
- British Deaf Association – bda.org.uk
- British Sign – british-sign.co.uk
- Clarion UK – clarion-uk.com
- Cochlear – cochlear.com
- CODA – codaukireland.co.uk
- Deafblind UK – deafblind.org.uk
- Deafsign – deafsign.com
- Deaf Unity – deafunity.org
- Even Break – evenbreak.co.uk
- Hear-It – hear-it.org
- Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – hearingdogs.org.uk
- Helping Hands – helpinghandshomecare.co.uk
- Institute of British Sign Language – ibsl.org.uk
- National Deaf Children’s Society – ndcs.org.uk
- NHS – nhs.uk
- Scope – scope.org.uk
- Signature – signature.org.uk
- Signhealth – signhealth.org.uk