Deafness – Hearing Problems

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

Information and advice for people who are deaf or have hearing problems. Organisations and charities offering help.

Your GP, your local authority social services or one of the voluntary organisations can help in different ways. Social services can provide advice and sometimes equipment; your GP will check your hearing and can put you in touch with other NHS services; and voluntary organisations can help with different aspects of deafness.

Hearing Aids hearing aids

Social services

Your local authority social services department may be able to provide you with:

  • Social workers who can give advice and guidance to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families;
  • Home equipment to make life easier such as textphones, flashing or vibrating alarm clocks and doorbells, and a loop system for listening to television;

And can provide information about:

  • Interpreter services for sign language users;
  • Lip-reading classes run by social services, the local education authority, clubs or clinics;
  • Social clubs run by volunteer groups or the local authority.


Hearing aid services The NHS hearing aid service is free. This includes testing, fitting and servicing. Batteries are also free. You should first go to your GP who may refer you to a hospital Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department. Sometimes your GP will refer you directly to a hearing aid centre.

If you want to buy a hearing aid privately, you should go to a registered hearing aid dispenser, as someone qualified to sell you a hearing aid is called. If you buy privately, the NHS cannot help you with the cost of the hearing aid or with servicing it and supplying batteries.

If you are fitted with an NHS hearing aid, you will be given the booklet How to use your hearing Aid (HAG2) which gives advice about how to make the best of a hearing aid and the names of the major voluntary organisations for people with hearing impairment. The booklet is free and can be obtained from: The Department of Health, PO Box 410, Wetherby LS23 7LN

Hearing therapists are available in some NHS areas to help people to come to terms with deafness. They provide counselling as well as additional help and advice in developing communication skills, including using hearing aids, environmental equipment and lip reading.

Speech and language therapists work with teachers and hearing therapists to help deaf babies, children and adults to develop and improve their speech and language skills. Some will have a special interest and additional training in this field.

Visiting teachers of the deaf will advise parents on how to help their child use hearing aids and develop language and speech and/or sign language. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) will also advise.

For information on any aspect of the NHS phone free 0800 665 544 voice/textphone

Voluntary Organisations and Resources

These range from large organisations covering all aspects of service. Information, campaigning and research to those focusing on particular issues and people.

Signed Language

A Guide to using British Sign Language.
This resource was formed to offer a unique reference point on sign language and communication basics. Sign Language Basics gives you all the basic signs for everyday life, topics and questions as well as other forms of communication for and with deaf people.

Their concern was that there was no single UK resource for interesting features and practical advice on this subject.


Talk with Sign Books

A specialist bookshop relating to deafness and deaf culture.

The British Deaf Association

They operate education, youth and promotion services and organises social events and holidays through its branch network. For people whose first language is British Sign Language. Tel: 0207 588 3520; textphone: 0207 588 3529

Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP)

Aiming to improve communication between deaf and hearing people by developing curricula and examinations in communication skills between deaf and hearing people. CACDP is the national examining board for certification in British Sign Language, lip speaking, communication with Deafblind people and Deaf Awareness. It also maintains a register of qualified and trainee sign language interpreters and other aids to human communication.

Tel: 0191 383 1155, Fax: 0191 383 7914, Text: 0191 383 7915

FYD (Friends for Young Deaf People)

They promotes the development of young deaf people through recreational and educational activities, often in active partnership between deaf and hearing people, organised through regional offices.

Tel: 01342 323444; textphone; 01342 312 639

Hearing Link (amalgamation (2011) of Hearing Concern and LINK Centre for Deafened People)

They help people to find information and support and to connect with others who have similar experiences. The charity focuses on giving people knowledge, skills, and confidence so people can manage the practical and emotional challenges hearing loss can bring. Helpline on 0300 111 1113

Link (the British Centre for Deafened People)

Offers counselling and rehabilitation courses for people who have become profoundly deaf, whether suddenly or gradually, and their families. The service is available without cost to people from all parts of the UK Tel/textphone; 01323 638 230

The National Association for Deafened People

They provides a service of information and support for people who have become profoundly deaf. It is run by and for deafened people and has a Helpdesk, local groups and produces a quarterly newsletter and various publications which are free to its members. Te/textphone: 01494 723 613

The National Deaf Children’s Society

They provides support, advice, information, equipment, advocacy and courses on education, health, benefits and equipment for deaf children, their families and professionals. It has 130 groups. Tel/textphone: 0207 490 8656

RAD (The Royal Association in Aid to Deaf People)

Promoting the spiritual, social and general welfare of deaf people through its centres in South East England. Services include: advocacy, chaplaincy, counselling, information, interpreting, leisure facilities and support groups giving deaf people the opportunity to lead confident and independent lives. Tel: 01206 509 509; textphone: 01206 577 090

RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People)

Their aim is to achieve a better quality of life for the 8.7 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. It provides information on all aspects of hearing impairment and deafness. Services include: lobbying, government; training interpreters, lipspeakers and speech-to-text operators; seeking changes in education for deaf people into work; equipment and products; social, medical and technical research.

For information about services in your area contact the Helpline. Tel: 0870 60 50 123 textphone: 0870 60 33 007

St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf

In Wetherby, West Yorkshire is a day and boarding school for hearing impaired pupils aged 3 to 19. In 2007 the school became a specialist school for sensory and physical impairments.