Help at hand if you lose your hearing
Whether you have just been diagnosed or have been living with hearing loss for some time, these organisations, individuals and services can help make life easier for you.
1. Hearing therapists
Hearing therapists are trained to help people adapt to living with their hearing loss or tinnitus. They work out a personalised rehabilitation programme, which can include lessons on using a hearing aid, how to communicate better and keeping up your work and social life. Hearing therapists are also trained to counsel you and your partner about adjusting to your hearing loss. They can also recommend equipment and services that could help you.
Hearing therapists work in the NHS, usually in hospital audiology departments, and some work privately. Ask for a referral from your ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, audiologist or GP.
2. Community support volunteers
Hearing Link is a national charity that helps and supports people who have lost most or all of their hearing. They have a team of community support volunteers around the UK who give support and practical advice to people who have lost their hearing. Community support volunteers are usually people who have hearing loss themselves.
Action on Hearing Loss, a charity supporting people who are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus, runs a free hearing aid support service called Hear to Help. Community support officers and volunteers help people to manage and maintain their NHS hearing aids through home visits and drop-in services.
3. Lipreading classes
Going to lipreading classes in your local area is a great way to develop your lipreading skills, meet new people and find out more about what’s going on in your area for people with hearing loss. Some employers may agree to give you time off work to attend these classes.
To find a local class, contact the Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults (ATLA) or your local adult education centre or college. If there is no class in your area, contact Action on Hearing Loss, which campaigns for better access to lipreading classes.
4. Hearing dogs
Hearing dogs help severely and completely deaf people by responding to specific sounds that hearing people often take for granted, such as the alarm clock, doorbell, a baby crying, the telephone and smoke alarms. The dogs are trained and provided by the charity, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
5. Financial benefits
You may be able to claim some benefits because of your hearing loss. Contact Action on Hearing Loss’s Information Line for more advice (telephone 0808 808 0123; textphone 0808 808 9000), email email@example.com or read its information on benefits and services.
6. Sign language classes
British Sign Language (BSL) is a language used by deaf people and their families. BSL uses a combi-nation of hand expressions and lip shapes to create words and phrases. Tone is added through context, facial expression and body language, so a single signed phrase can infer a number of different meanings.
7. Hearing loss equipment
Action on Hearing Loss has a downloadable catalogue of equipment to help people with hearing loss or tinnitus. Items range from extra-loud mobile phones to flashing doorbells.
8. Family and friends
Make sure your family and friends know about your hearing loss. Action on Hearing Loss has communication tips for hearing people on how to talk clearly to you and not to leave you out of the conversation.
According to the charity SignHealth, about 40% of profoundly deaf people experience mental distress at some time or other. It offers counselling specially for deaf people. SignHealth therapists are all qualified, can use sign language and understand deaf culture. SignHealth also helps deaf people interact and get the most from the NHS. It can provide online BSL/English interpreting in GP surgeries for same-day and short-notice appointments.
10. NHS Choices local services search
Find out which hearing impairment and deaf support services are available from both the NHS and other sources in your local area.