Transcript: Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

According to Delia Henry, Director at Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, hearing loss and deafness don't often get highly profiled in Scottish society.

Podcast Episode: Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Category: Disability 



What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

MM - Michael McEwan
DH - Delia Henry

This is Internet radio for Scotland Social Services.

MM Now on we are here at Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and I’m joined by the Director of the Scottish branch, Delia Henry. Delia thanks for giving us your time. First question would be what is Action on Hearing Loss?

DH Action on Hearing Loss is the biggest Charity in the UK who support deaf or hard of hearing people or importantly people with tenasis. We deliver the Scottish end of the business here but we have been around, people maybe of known us from before as RNID, The Royal National Institute for the Deaf. So we have been established over 100 years. Our centenary was in 2011. The reason we changed our name in 2011 was because people tended to think we only dealt with profoundly deaf people, well we do that, people who use BSL, but we support anybody with a hearing loss. If you have got hearing aids or you have got tinnitus we should be your first port of call.

MM So what services do you provide?

DH We provide lots of services. We provide services for people across that whole spectrum. A big piece of work that we do is information. Hearing loss doesn’t have that high a profile often and deafness generally and a lot of the issues that we come across is that people don’t get the information and how to control their lives. Often if they get access they will maybe go to ode ology, so the NHS, they go to their GP, they get referred to the Hospital and it’s very much a clinical service. What we do is add information to give people the tools of how to manage their own condition and I find that is absolutely critically what we should do, it’s a real driver of mine, particularly, but as an organisation that’s our motivation. So we provide lots of information. We provide people practical support. We have a service called “moving on”, which is about supporting young deaf and hard of hearing people into work, Higher and Further Education and we give people, we do confidence building courses. We work with Employers very importantly because they don’t know potentially how to support someone, so we do a lot of that and our Employment advisors are all qualified in advice and guidance but they also sign really well, so they are trained in British Sign Language (BSL). We also can’t support people over 25 now, we are sub-contractors for the DWP Contracts specifically for deaf people. We also have another service that we call “Hear to Help” and its practical support once you have got a hearing aid. So we train our volunteers who go into community settings and the support people with their hearing is to make sure they are still working and very importantly give them practical tips and guidance about maybe switching the subtitles on, on the telly, so that you can get access to it more. Very, very practical low level information that give people the tools to live their life. We also have an online today service which we find technology is a big help for people who have a hearing loss. But often they are not sure or confident how to use, so we have a service jointly with RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and we support deaf people or hard of hearing people in how to use technology, Ipads, Tablets, Phones and how they can use that to help them with their deafness. So we do all of that in Scotland.

MM Busy, busy, busy then?

DH Absolutely, we are not ever struggle for things to do.

MM So, you have kind of answered the question at the beginning but is your Charity UK wide?

DH It is. It’s a UK wide Charity. As I said before we were the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, we are now Action Hearing Loss and we do the Scottish end of the business and I think what we often, people don’t understand are the numbers of people that have hearing loss. 1 in 6 of the population have some level of hearing loss and in Scotland that’s nearly 900,000 people. It’s a massive number of people but a big chunk of them for some reasons will not be diagnosed. Some people wait 10 years to go and address their hearing loss and we all know someone who has a hearing loss, whether it’s someone younger or as you get older you are liable to have a hearing loss, so we will all know maybe an elderly relative that hasn’t done something about their hearing loss. So we support people and encourage them to go and get a diagnosis and give them the tools to live their life, hopefully.

MM So how can people get referred to you or can they just walk in or call in?

DH They can in any of our services its self-referral. People can just decide for themselves. If they find out about us, we have, you can email us, if you can’t hear on the phone, you can email us or text us or whatever, we are happy to take whatever kind of enquiries. Just if you find out about us go onto our Website, you will get the details. Just get in touch with us and we will point you in the right direction for services.

MM I think this question would fit in nicely. Do you work with like Schools, Colleges and Universities, can make people aware of people with hearing loss?

DH We do, we do short sessions. We have an information officer and she will maybe go out and do short sessions on deaf awareness, so how to support people who are deaf. But absolutely our employment project, we go out and work with Employers. We just recently went to a fresher’s fair in Glasgow University and we talked to students about the issues, we generated some interest in volunteering. We talk to frankly anyone who wants to hear about deafness. Big issue just now around statutory services is a key aspect of what people are looking at as communication and often they don’t think of deafness in communication. The absolute key to supporting people with hearing loss is communicating appropriately and just knowing what they need as an individual it makes all the difference. So we will talk to anybody who wants to listen.

MM So what has the feedback been like from people like using your service?

DH We get very good feedback. Our employment project, we are getting over 60% success rate so we are getting people into College, Higher and Further Education and Work very importantly. Our “Hear to Help” services, we have just currently done and we are about to publish a research project and we have got over a 1000 responses from across Scotland. So and that’s about peoples experiences and are getting really good feedback on our services and we are giving people practical support where they are not getting it in other places. I think for me it can often be a light bulb for people because they don’t get support so we get really good feedback but if we have a problem, tell us about it, we want to get better. I’m not complacent, I really think if people don’t just always say your wonderful, it’s nice to hear your wonderful but I think people need to give us good quality feedback, critical feedback so we can improve what we do.

MM So how can people get involved in Action Loss Hearing or else to maybe volunteer?

DH If you want to get in touch with us, in Scotland, you can email our enquiry, email box, which is,, go onto our website, the link is there or just contact us in our Glasgow office, the number is 0141 341 5330.

MM So basically it’s your turn now to advertise your organisation. So if you can tell us if you have a website, well you have, Facebook and Twitter please.

DH We do, we are hearinglossscot on Twitter and our Facebook page is Action on Hearing Loss Scotland. So give us a follow because we are always looking for followers on both Twitter and Facebook and our information goes out on that on a regular basis as you can imagine. The more followers we have got the more we can get our message out there. So please give us a follow.

MM And your website address

DH Our website is

MM And we will put all these links onto Iriss website as well. Can I just go back to ask you about the, when I ask you about is your Charity UK wide. So do you do some other work for the organisation in England?

DH We do similar services. Our Employment services is actually quite unique and across the UK our colleagues are looking to replicate that so we are quite proud of that because we developed the moral in Scotland. Interestingly in Scotland the one thing that we don’t do and we do everywhere else in the UK is Care and Support and that’s for historic reasons other smaller organisations did the work. But we are, other than in Scotland, we are the largest organisation who support people with additional needs with their hearing loss, so people with learning disabilities, mental health issues and we have residential and community support for people. So we support hundreds of people with additional needs and hearing loss. Because all of our staff are trained, they sign really well and back to what I said about communication, we work really, really hard to make sure we get our communication right and that can make a massive difference to people. So our ambition in Scotland would be that we would have care and support too.

MM Do you feel as though people didn’t recognise yourselves enough?

DH I think generally the issue is that people don’t recognise that hearing loss is important. It’s a very hidden disability and often as I’ve said to you before people can wait up to 10 years to be diagnosed, so often it’s not recognised as making a difference in people’s lives, it can be massively isolating, massively isolating. We all know someone who will go into a corner because they can’t cope with background noise because of their hearing loss. We all know someone like that and often it’s not addressed and very often we find that the issue of deafness is not considered and our job is to the message out there but we still need to work at it. So interviews like this can help us do that, so we really appreciate it. Thank you for speaking to me today.

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