A change in a person’s hearing ability can have a huge impact on their daily life. Hearing loss can cause someone to become withdrawn and isolated as it makes communication more difficult and can leave people feeling unsafe or left out. According to WHO, around 466 million people across the world have disabling hearing loss – a figure that is estimated to rise to over 900 million by 2050. Fortunately, there is help on hand that can make living with hearing loss more manageable.
Technology: Hearing Aids
Hearing aids can help someone with hearing loss as it boosts and modifies sound and delivers it directly to your ear canal allowing you to hear the sounds better. There are many different kinds of hearing aid available including behind-the-ear, open-fit, in-the-ear and canal hearing aids so with the help of an audiologist you should be able to find one that suits you and your situation. Keep in mind that it takes time to get used to wearing hearing aids so patience and fine-tuning may be necessary. Hearing aids can cost between £300 and £3000 privately, as this may be out of your price range we have listed some organisations that may be able to assist you in getting the hearing aids you need.
- Miracle-Ear Foundation – Offers reduced cost and free hearing aids to those who meet their eligibility criteria.
- Starkey Hearing Foundation – has a Hear Now program that provides hearing aids for low-income individuals.
- Sertoma – this organisation recycles, refurbishes and distributes hearing aids to local people in need.
- NHS – in the UK, your GP can help you get hearing aids on the NHS if you need them.
- Local Hearing Aid Banks & Programs – Some areas have local hearing aid banks and resources available that provide services that may help you.
- Health Insurance – There’s a chance that your health insurance will cover the cost of hearing aids (or at least the cost of hearing screenings and tests) so be sure to check your individual plan and policy.
Other Equipment People May Find Useful
In addition to hearing aids, there are other devices that may make life without hearing easier, these include:
- Alerters – these can be linked to doorbells or phones and can draw your attention by flashing, vibrating or making additional sound.
- Paging Systems – these can alert you by buzzing and can be linked to alarm clocks, smoke alarms, baby monitors etc.
- Hearing Loops – this gives you a clearer sound with less background noise and can be useful in all kinds of situations.
Good places to look for assistive equipment:
If you are unsure about some of the equipment we have mentioned and you want to chat with others who have experienced a similar situation to you, take a look at this great forum on Action on Hearing Loss. On the forum, you will find information and discussions about various products and equipment, discover other people’s personal experiences and receive lots of advice.
Sign language is an effective and very popular method of communication among hearing impaired and deaf people. In 2003, sign language was recognized as an official language within the UK and there are many resources available that can help you to learn this crucial language.
- The Institute of British Sign Language – this site offers a plethora of information on everything related to British Sign Language.
- The British Sign Language Dictionary – this is an incredibly useful site to have on hand if you are communicating with someone who is deaf within the UK. There is a difference between British and American sign language so if you’re in the states take a look at this site
- The Fingerspelling Alphabet – this chart is a great starting point if you are interacting with somebody who is deaf.
- Signature – you can gain qualification in sign language from Signature, they also provide support to hearing impaired people and their families.
- Deafsign – this site offers a huge amount of information on sign language and communication.
Lipreading is not easy, it will certainly take some practice to get the hang of. A lipreading class is when a tutor will teach someone who is experiencing hearing loss how to read peoples lips. It’s often a good way to make friends who are in a similar situation as well as find out about local services.
A list of local classes can be found at ATLA Lipreading or you can usually find out about classes through local centres too. There is also a large amount of free material on Lipreading Practice if you are struggling to find a class or would prefer to practice at home.
Support for Children
There are tens of millions of children across the globe who are hearing impaired. Living with hearing impairment can have a direct impact on a child’s speaking, listening and learning abilities. This can leave parents feeling lost and unsure on how to provide support to their child during this time. Below are several organisations that offer support for families and children living with hearing loss:
- The National Deaf Children’s Society – this is an excellent resource that provides a range of information and advice to families with a deaf or hearing-impaired child.
- Cochlear – this charity provides key information including the signs of deafness in children, how this may impact your child and what steps to take next.
- Scope – this organisation provides advice to help your hearing-impaired child thrive and reach their potential.
- Hear-It – you can find audio tests and advice on the Hear-It site. The audio tests can help you to understand what it is like for a child living with hearing loss.
Support for Adults
Hearing Link states that 1 in 6 adults experience some hearing loss. Living with hearing loss involves facing new challenges that can impact your work life as well as your interactions with friends and family. It is important to note that employees must be treated fairly and without discrimination in accordance to the Equality Act of 2010 (UK) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (USA). This means hearing loss should not get in the way of your work. However, it can be frustrating or upsetting at times but with these organisations you can face the challenges with confidence and support:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau – this is an excellent place to go for tips and advice on your rights and on finding work.
- BID Services – this charity works with both children and adults and provide a range of services including equipment support, social work and employment support.
- Sense – this organisation supports and campaigns for people who are deafblind. They provide a variety of services including employment opportunities and support to help people live independently.
- Clarion UK – this charity assists deaf people by providing advice and support to employees and employers.
- Deaf Unity – This charity supports deaf people, they have a focus on employment with a job search portal on their site and a huge amount of knowledge on employment rights.
Support for the Elderly
Hearing loss and deafness is usually associated with the elderly as many people lose their hearing as they age. In fact, it is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. As it can be difficult for elderly people, there are some organisations that can offer tailored support:
- Action on Hearing Loss – this is a fantastic resource for supporting older people with hearing loss within residential care homes.
- Age UK – offers information regarding hearing loss within elderly people and how to handle it.
- Association of Late-Deafened Adults – this is a resource centre that provides information and support groups for people who have experienced hearing loss in adulthood.
Although you can live a high quality of life as a hearing impaired or deaf individual you may need to make some adjustments to your home life in order to promote independence and wellness. Home care and support can make a positive difference to your day-to-day life so don’t be shy in requesting services if you think they will help you or your loved one. There are a few organisations that may be able to provide you with assistance including:
- Helping Hands – this UK nursing company can provide trained nurses to assist a deaf person within their own home.
- Action on Hearing Loss – offers a supported living and housing service.
- Deaf Inc. – U.S.A based support service that promotes independent living for hearing impaired people.
Earlier, we mentioned some of the organisations and options for getting hearing aids and supportive equipment discounted or for free. In addition to this, there are other financial assistance you may be able to benefit from. Below are a few of the grants and schemes you may be eligible for:
- If you use hearing aids or are registered deaf you may also be able to enjoy free or discounted local travel as well as discounted rail fares.
- If your hearing loss was caused by something within your workplace you may be eligible for the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, equally if your hearing loss was caused by military service you may be able to receive compensation on the War Pensions or Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
- If you are a student and have hearing loss you may be able to get Disabled Students’ Allowances to help you pay for specialist support and equipment for your studies.
- If your hearing loss is having an impact on you at work, the Access to Work grant could help you pay for equipment and communication support.
Did you know there are service dogs available for hearing impaired people? Introducing a trained canine into your life can have a huge, positive impact as dogs not only make incredible companions but they also have excellent hearing and can alert you to a range of sounds.
- Hearing Dogs – this UK charity trains dogs for deaf people so the dog will alert humans to a variety of noises including the doorbell, alarm clock, telephone, smoke alarm etc.
- Dogs for Better Lives – you can find lots of information regarding service dogs here as well as find out more about hearing dogs and apply for one if you feel it is right for you and your situation.
Useful Resources for Living with Hearing Loss
We have provided a range of organisations and resources within this guide, below are some key resources that can provide you with further advice, information and support:
- Hearing Loss Association of America (Employment Toolkit) – this is a great resource for both the employee with hearing loss and the employer of a person with hearing loss.
- Help Kids Hear – this is an organisation founded by parents of children with hearing loss with the aim of providing support and making information and resources more easily accessible to parents of hearing impaired and deaf children.
- National Association of the Deaf – this association promotes the rights of deaf people and has a range of resources for deaf and hard of hearing people in America.
- National Hearing Aid Project – this project provides hearing aids to individuals with low-income.
- NHS – offers advice and health services to people in the UK.
- Action on Hearing Loss – this is a great go-to for all things related to hearing loss, they offer a huge amount of support services and assistance.
- Institute of British Sign Language – this is the perfect place to start if you are interested in sign language within the UK.