8 hearing helpers
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or you’ve 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 usually work in hospital audiology departments, and some work privately. Ask for a referral from your ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, audiologist or doctor.
2. Community support volunteers
There are national charities that help and supports people who have lost most or all of their hearing. They have a team of community support volunteers who give support and practical advice to people who have lost their hearing. Community support volunteers are usually people who have hearing loss themselves.
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.
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.
5. Sign language classes
British Sign Language (BSL) is a language used by deaf people and their families. BSL uses a combination 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.
6. 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. Alternatively you can browse their online shop.
7. 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. Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist, or read more about services for deaf people.