A leading audiologist has told Eastbourne’s hard of hearing not to be afraid of speaking up over the poor provision of loops in the town.
Pauline Jenkins, chief audiologist with the East Sussex Healthcare Trust based at Park Practice, said that for businesses to help the hard of hearing, by installing and maintaining well-equipped loop systems, customers had to keep them on their toes.
“We are going to work to make things better in Eastbourne for those who wear hearing aids,” she said.
“But for this to succeed you must tell people that their loop system is not working. Don’t pretend you can understand or smile politely, tell someone.”
Pauline was speaking at a hearing information event staged at Age Concern Eastbourne last Friday.
She urged visitors to make their voices heard by letting businesses and those responsible for hearing loops in public places know if their system was not up to scratch.
The event, organised by the charity Hearing Link, follows the launch earlier this month of the Let’s Loop Eastbourne campaign which aims to raise awareness of hearing loops in the town to coincide with the third International Hearing Loop Conference which takes place in Eastbourne this October.
Hearing loop systems are a special type of sound system for those using hearing aids or some cochlear implants.
The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal which is picked up by the hearing aid or cochlear implant when a ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting or a hearing loop programme is selected.
Pauline Jenkins spent time with visitors to the event adjusting the settings on their hearing aids and helping them to understand how their quality of life would be greatly improved by using the hearing loops when out in a public place such as a shop, a theatre or even a church where the loop system is fitted.
Joan Scowen, 79, from Langney has been using a hearing aid for the past three years.
Until Pauline Jenkins helped her with her hearing aid, Joan had no idea of the benefits of the loop system when she tried it out at the Age Concern building, including watching a specially-equipped television.
“It is marvellous, I had no idea what the loop could do,” she said. “I hadn’t got my hearing aid set up to pick up the loop.
“I do have a hard job hearing at times, especially when I’m out with friends. This will make a world of difference. I would say to anyone who didn’t know about hearing loops to find out more. It is brilliant.”
Pauline Jenkins told the audience that hearing aids and loop systems “don’t make hearing” - they will work with and enhance the level of hearing people have.
She admitted that technology has moved on tremendously since the days of the simple analogue hearing aids to new digital ones. Inevitably, that caused confusion among wearers about how their hearing aids worked.
Pauline asked the audience: “How many of you understood what it was like to be hearing impaired before you wore a hearing aid? It is ignorance. You have to inform others and help them to understand what you need to help you in your life. It’s not enough to smile sweetly.
“We are going to work to make things better, but you must say when loop systems are not working. ”
Rhiannon Barker from Hearing Link UK added: “Deafness can be isolating and with the hearing loop initiative in Eastbourne I want to put an end to that. I want to put the smile back on people’s faces when they see the difference it makes.”