Exponential growth in technology has revolutionised the way we all live but has the potential to go much further to benefit the eleven million people across the UK with hearing loss, as highlighted by a visit from HRH The Duke of York to charity Action on Hearing Loss’ showcase tech event at the Walkie Talkie, 20 Fenchurch Street, London yesterday (8 December).
With one in six people living with hearing loss in the UK, there is currently no cure for the growing health condition. Therefore technology can be a lifeline, vital to allow access to services, enjoyment of entertainment and combat social isolation. With new technologies constantly emerging in a digital age, the event looked to celebrate the tremendous advances which have led to better inclusivity for those with deafness and hearing loss and push for further innovation, marked with the launch of the charity’s Technology Initiative for Hearing Loss.
The Duke of York met with charity Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID), of which he is a Patron, as well as Professor Akeroyd, Director of MRC Institute for Hearing Research, and various technology manufacturers to learn about the future opportunities that innovations may bring.
Speaking at the event, HRH The Duke of York said:
“I’m really pleased to see that technology is being used as a method of being able to solve some of these problems. This [hearing loss] is a human condition that we can in many cases help alleviate and there are people out there who simply don’t know that their technology can be applied into this area. We just have to get the message out that this is an area that technology can make a difference to.”
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive of charity Action on Hearing Loss, said:
“We are delighted that His Royal Highness has been able to visit our showcase event and sincerely hope that his support will help raise awareness of our Technology Initiative for Hearing Loss.
“People with deafness and hearing loss face many barriers that can have a huge impact on their daily life, both within and outside their home. Significant progress is being made towards developing medical treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus; however there will always be a need for assistive technology. Many innovative technologies are emerging, with features such as automated speech to text and motion recognition, but companies may not always recognise the potential of their technology to help people with hearing loss; we want to ensure their needs are considered and this potential is reached.”
Suzi Rees, Director of iDID Adventure, has hearing loss in both ears but has not let this hold her back and this has a lot to do with crucial developments in technology. She said:
“This is a great strategy to launch. Technology has certainly changed my life and enabled me to work and maintain relationships more efficiently. Social media allows me to have conversations and catch ups without difficulty. One of the things I love most about it is that I get anecdotal information. I often miss a lot of this in group environments with friends.
“When I lost my hearing, I no longer thought I could speak to friends and family on the phone. The type talk services were too slow and complicated to bother with so video chat has also been a game changer.”
To find out more about the charity’s technology initiative, please visit https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/technology-initiative.aspx