Communication needs of people with a hearing loss increasingly diverse

The communication needs of people with a hearing loss in the UK are becoming more varied, according to recent research by The Ear Foundation and Signature.

Providers of communication support said the needs of people with a hearing loss are more diverse than in the past and forecast them to become more so.

The main reasons are increases in the use of cochlear implants and an increasing number of people living in the UK whose main language is not English.

Sue Archbold, chief executive of The Ear Foundation, said: "This diversity of need results in changing roles and responsibilities for providers of communication and language support, particularly in education.

"They will need to consider how they deliver their services to take advantage of this diversity, which is only set to increase, and think about their changing training needs.”

Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, said: "These findings are crucial for organisations such as Signature, the leading awarding body for qualifications in communication with deaf and deafblind people, in developing its strategic direction.

"Those involved in delivering education will also want to reassess their offer, if they aren't already. We have demonstrated the demand, and we hope it will help to stimulate supply."

Lesley Weatherson, chair of the Association of Lipspeakers, said: "Professional lipspeakers have been playing an important part in supporting the communication needs of deaf and deafened people for many years.

"However, our roles have changed by demand and now vary from providing lip pattern with finger spelling to full signed supported lipspeaking. Many of us hold both lipspeaking and British Sign Language qualifications.

"It is quite a skill to listen and process information, lipspeak clearly and simultaneously add signs to support related vocabulary."

The providers who responded to the survey were mainly sign language interpreters and communication support workers. The vast majority, 96 per cent, provided sign language interpreting. 65 per cent provided sign with speech (mainly sign) and 42 per cent speech with sign (mainly speech).

Just over half said variety in the form of communication used had increased, as had the need for flexibility. A similar number thought this would continue, with 45 per cent concerned they would have difficulty meeting the needs of a group.

The service most frequently used by people with a hearing loss is a palantypist or subtitles. 52 per cent of respondents said they used a palantypist or subtitles and would continue to do so in the future.

While 37 per cent used a sign language interpreter, 41 per cent would do so if they had the choice. 36 per cent used a notetaker, but 40 per cent would like to. And eight per cent used a lipspeaker but 13 per cent would like to.

But here.the biggest difference between current use and future preference related to communication support workers using a mixture of speech and sign. 24 per cent used a communication support worker, but a third would do so if they had the choice.

The full report is available to view here


Share this article: