Rallying the Troops!

14 08 2010

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented or shared my last post. Below is the email that I have sent out to various charities or organisations involved with deafness/hearing loss. It would really help the cause if we could get some of these on board, and I’ll let you know as soon as I start getting some replies, which will hopefully not be too long.

Hi,

Re: The Campaign to Keep Analogue Hearing Aids Available on the NHS

I am writing to you in order to inform you of a new campaign that has been set up recently; the campaign to keep analogue hearing aids available on the NHS. I have worn one analogue hearing aid since I was approximately six years old, and am now 29. My hearing loss is described by my audiologist as a “Sloping high frequency loss” which is severe to profound in the higher frequencies.

Analogue hearing aids have greatly assisted me in my life, enabling me to complete a mainstream education, and obtain many qualifications such as GCSEs, A Levels, and a professional qualification in Social Work. I currently work full time as a Social Worker for the Local Authority, specialising in working with children with Disabilities. Analogue aids have also enabled me to learn to play the guitar and sing, and I am currently part of a band playing gigs around my local area.

Although I do not dispute the fact that digital hearing aids have a lot of impressive features, and can be extremely helpful to some people, I am very concerned about the fact that people are not being given the choice between digital and analogue hearing aids, even if they have used analogue aids for many years, or are unable to get along with their digital counterparts.

Recently it has been necessary for me to start changing over from analogue to digital hearing aids. This is due to the fact that my current analogue aid is now several years old, and no longer functioning properly. Trying to get used to digital hearing aids has been extremely stressful for me, to the extent that I have had to take time off work, and have been unable to make music. Thankfully I have been able to keep my analogue hearing aid for the time being, although when this breaks, as things stand at present, I will have to move over completely to digital.

As a result of my concerns about this issue in relation to my own hearing, my wife and I started researching online, to find other people’s experiences. It soon came to light that there are a very large number of people in very similar circumstances to my own. Although it is generally accepted that all digital hearing need adjustment after the first fitting in order to improve the sound, we have found a number of people who have been struggling with their digital hearing aids for years and still are not happy or comfortable with them, and continue to wish that analogue hearing aids would once again be available to them. There are stories of people who can no longer recognise the sound of their young child crying, and others who can no longer enjoy hobbies or interests which were so easily accessible to them with the use of analogue aids. There are also many people, myself included, who are extremely upset, confused and frustrated about being told that they are no longer able to access the same type of treatment for their hearing loss, when it has served them so well for many years. Unfortunately we have found many people who have grown tired of arguing with the NHS about this issue, and now feel they have no choice but to put up with substandard digital aids which give them a lower quality of life than they had previously.

At the present time, considering that we have only started this campaign very recently, I am unclear as to the exact reasoning behind the decision to phase out analogue hearing aids. I am also unclear why it has not been possible for audiology departments to offer both analogue and digital aids to patients, depending on what suited them best. Another issue I am looking into is to what extent audiology patients were consulted about these issues, as I know I was not consulted about this by my local audiology department, having been a user of analogue hearing aids for approximately 23 years.

I am writing to a number of organisations involved in supporting deaf or hard of hearing people, in order to spread awareness of the campaign to keep analogue hearing aids available on the NHS. It would be much appreciated if you could respond to this message, and hopefully provide some answers to the following questions:

Firstly, what is your organisation’s opinion with regards to whether or not it would be in the best interests of deaf and hard of hearing people for the NHS to continue to offer access to both digital and analogue hearing aids?

Do you know of any NHS trusts that still provide analogue aids to audiology patients?

Would your organisation be willing to support our campaign, through informing your members and sharing information about our cause? (We would be very interested to hear from other people who have also struggled with this issue).

Alternatively would your organisation be interested in setting up your own campaign for this issue?

Finally, it would be greatly appreciated if you could offer us any advice with regards to other people or organisations we could approach.

Since starting this campaign, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received, and feel certain that this will continue to grow and develop. So far, people who have offered support have included not only deaf people but also family and friends, audiology professionals, and political activists. It has also recently been confirmed that a newspaper for deaf people will be featuring information about our campaign. This has been achieved in less than a week, and we continue to look at further ways of expanding. Any support your organisation could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Apologies for the length of this message, but I wanted to ensure you had the background information about the reasons for starting this campaign. You can find further information via the following internet links:

Facebook Group for the campaign:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=116042521781196

Thread on the RNID forum:

http://www.rnid.org.uk/community/forums/products/analogue_hearing_aids_/

There is also a blog post by my wife, Anna, who is supporting me very heavily with this campaign:

http://missuso.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/nhs-turns-a-deaf-ear-to-the-needs-of-hearing-aid-users-2/

I hope to hear from you in the near future, and also hope that we may be able to work together promote this issue and ensure deaf and hard of hearing people who prefer analogue hearing aids can continue to access them.

Yours Sincerely

Andrew Oates

And finally, here is a list of who I’ve sent it to. If anyone has any other ideas of good places to get in touch with, please let me know:

Deaf Sign

UK Deaf Sport

Deaf Action

Hearing Dogs for the Deaf

University of Bristol Centre for Deaf Studies

Royal Association for the Deaf

Sense

Birmingham Institute for the Deaf

Signature

Deaf Way

Deaf Plus

British Deaf Association

British Deaf Sports Council

Deaf Blind UK
Association of Lip Speakers

Deaf Broadcasting Council

Deaf Education Through Talking and Listening

Deafness Research UK

Hearing Concern LINK

National Association of Deafened People

National Deaf Children’s Society

Sign Health

Sign Station

Age UK

British Academy of Audiology

British Society of Audiology

British Association of Educational Audiologists

British Association of Teachers for the Deaf

British Association of Hearing Aid Audiologists

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2 responses

14 08 2010
Rallying the Troops! (via Sender Says…..) | Mrs O's Blog

[…] Thanks to everyone who has read, commented or shared my last post. Below is the email that I have sent out to various charities or organisations involved with deafness/hearing loss. It would really help the cause if we could get some of these on board, and I'll let you know as soon as I start getting some replies, which will hopefully not be too long. Hi, Re: The Campaign to Keep Analogue Hearing Aids Available on the NHS I am writing to you in o … Read More […]

23 12 2015
peter morley-smith

Hello all, yes the digital hearing aids are NOT for everyone who have been wearing analogue hearing aids for most of their life. I, too have been wearing analogs since i was about 3yrs old,now I am 46.
I have spent the last five years trying those digitals, still does not sounds right and takes forever to get it right, going back and forth to the audiologist. It’s all to much time and effort.
One thing I do notice, at the audiology dept. when they tune the digitals on the computer, the audiologist change the numbers in the block type graph which have loads of numbers in it.
I think that’s the problem, it’s too complex to tune the aids.
The software design needs changing. Have a circular dial pattern graphs or a graphic equaliser , 4 of them, one for high tone one for low tone, one for power gain and AGC on the screen instead. This would be a lot easier to work on.
Also this would give a better picture for audiologist as well as the patients too.
And get rid of unnecessary programs that comes with the aids, have something simple on/off switch,volume control dial instead.
But one thing I would like it’s to have, a bluetooth in it as I love listening to music from the mobile phone!
I sincerely hope in the future there’s a solution for all of us.

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