The Impact of Hearing Loss

“Curiosity, enthusiasm and stamina turned into fear, exhaustion and despair.”

Read Emmanuelle Ding’s account of the impact of hearing loss on her life.

Here she reflects on the challenges she faced after losing her hearing and how she has overcome these to embrace life after her diagnosis.

Hearing Loss Account Hearing Link

“I have been living with hearing loss for nearly three decades now.

The first diagnosis occurred in France, 27 years ago.  It was a minor problem and nothing to worry about – according to my consultant. So I didn’t worry about it and kept going with my life. I knew I had a problem and adapted accordingly without real impediment.

However, slowly but surely, my hearing deteriorated further and 13 years ago I was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss.

It happened four months before coming to England to live with my husband. I nonetheless took up the challenge of moving to a new country, learning a new language without hearing and adapting to a new life.

It took me two years to learn English through lip reading and to find a job.

It has taken me many years to recognise and accept the damage hearing loss has done to my life – 13 years and a Self Management Programme with Hearing Link to be exact.

Living with hearing loss means that the connection with your surrounding environment is intermittent and uncertain. There is no alarm whatsoever – no fire alarm, no burglar alarm, no timer, no bell at the doorstep, no phone alarm.

Any verbal information, if not supported by lip reading is incomprehensible, therefore any announcement in public spaces and public transports is out of my reach and I am left by myself to figure out what’s going on, whether it’s a delay, change of platform, cancellation or evacuation alert.

Hearing Loss Fire Alarm

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Assistive listening technology: what are your options?

While many businesses know they should be considerate towards visible access issues like wheelchair use, hidden disabilities such as hearing impairment are often not given the same attention.

Hearing aids alone are simply not enough for people with hearing impairment. They pick up all sound in the surrounding area and don’t distinguish speech from background noise, which can make it difficult to easily interact in public spaces.

Assistive listening technologies can give experiences in venues such as movie theatres, meeting halls, and churches back to those who have been missing out for years.

What is an assistive listening device?

Assistive Listening Technology, or Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), capture a sound source and transmit it directly to the person listening.

There are three main types of ALDs:

Infrared light covers large areas and has a quick and simple installation, with signal reaching across the room as long as line of sight is maintained with the transmitters. Users must ask for receivers, which can be off-putting for those who do not wish to highlight their hearing loss. All receivers must then be maintained regularly due to hygiene issues and kept charged.

FM systems use radio frequencies to transmit directly to receivers or earphones when the user has a receiver such as a Neckloop equipped. Unless they have a custom hearing-aid, users must either carry their own equipment or, like with infrared, ask for receivers which must then be regularly maintained due to hygiene issues and kept charged.

Hearing loops are universally compatible with the telecoil inside hearing devices, meaning no additional equipment needs to be worn by hearing aid wearers. Although they generally have a higher installation cost than other options, they are discreet once lain down and little maintenance is required other than periodic checks.

What about Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is the most recent of these technologies and uses radio waves to connect to users’ smartphones or computers. Convenience is a benefit, as savvy users just need to bring their electronic device with them and connect wirelessly. The main drawbacks are latency – there is a significant delay between when the sound is produced and when it reaches the listener – and that users are required to own their own smartphone or device.

Hearing loops are widely adopted

We have outlined the benefits of hearing loop systems as we believe they are the best all round Assistive Listening Technology, due to both their lack of latency and ease of use. These benefits have been demonstrated to users around the world, as hearing loops are the most widely adopted assistive listening technology option.

Contacta names Amber Technology as exclusive distributor for Australia and New Zealand

Contacta are delighted to announce their new exclusive distributor for Australia and New Zealand; Amber Technology.

Amber Technology is one of Australia’s largest and most respected distributors of high technology equipment solutions to a diverse audience that includes commercial installation providers, professional broadcast, film, recording, live production and entertainment markets. With offices and representatives in all major cities, Contacta is delighted to work with Amber Technology in supplying a range of hearing loop and speech transfer systems including the powerful and dynamic HLD7 hearing loop driver.

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What is a hearing loop?

You may recognise a hearing loop sign, but how do they work?

There are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss*. That’s one in every six of the population!

1 in 6 people

A wide variety of hearing aids are available both privately and through the NHS. Hearing aids allow users to hear clearly, sometimes for the first time! However, in noisy environments such as the supermarket checkout, hearing aids amplify all sound, making it difficult to distinguish speech, music or conversation from the background noise.

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Are care homes ready for the new NHS standard?

By 31st July 2016, all organisations that provide NHS or publicly funded adult social care must conform to a new Accessible Information Standard.

This standard aims to benefit those with a disability or sensory loss by telling organisations how they should provide support to enable effective, accurate dialogue with disabled residents or patients. In order to comply, a means of communicating with those with hearing loss must be in place in care homes.

For those with hearing loss, this is a breakthrough. Hearing loss is a major public health issue in the UK, affecting a third of over 65 year olds. They receive a lower standard of healthcare across the board when compared to the general population, with a study having found that higher levels of hearing loss were linked to lower levels of patient activation.

So what should care homes do?

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