We are Action on Hearing LossOur purpose is to help people who are confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. We enable them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. We provide people with support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.
Support and Care:We provide high-quality services and influence others to improve their services to meet people’s needs.We seek to ensure that everyone confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss gets the diagnosis and information they need to manage their condition, and any high-quality support and care they may need to live the life they choose.
- We gave 1.8m hours of high-quality, person-centred care and support to people who are deaf with additional support needs.
- 110,495 people used our telephone and online hearing check.
- Through our free Information Line, we answered 16,917 calls and 8,624 emails.
- We helped more than 33,000 people with hearing aids to get the most from them and 89% of people who used our Hear to Help hearing aid support service say they’re now really benefitting from their hearing aids.
- Our befriending services helped more than 1,300 people, with 94% of people saying this has improved their lives.
- We gave face-to-face support to 3,309 people with multiple sensory needs.
Technology and Treatments:
We fund biomedical research, encourage other funders to invest in hearing research, and drive the development and take-up of new technology.
We seek to ensure that new technology and medical treatments are developed quickly to benefit people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
- We supported 88 projects to increase hearing research capacity, make scientific discoveries and develop new treatments.
- 65% of the students we funded continue to carry out hearing research. The sector average is 47%.
- £1.6 million was invested in biomedical treatments to prevent hearing loss, restore hearing and silence tinnitus.
Campaigning for Equality:
We influence governments and organisations, empower people, and change public attitudes.
We seek to ensure that everyone confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss has the same access – and can make the same life choices – as everyone else.
- Faced with unprecedented threats to free hearing aids, we helped persuade eight Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England to scale back or drop plans for cutbacks.
- 5,104 people helped us campaign. Major video-on-demand providers are now committed to improving accessibility for viewers with hearing loss.
- Our major report, Hearing Matters, launched at all four parliaments and assemblies, put forward radical recommendations for urgent government action.
About deafness and hearing loss
We use the term ‘hearing loss’ to cover all kinds of deafness.
The average of hearing losses in the better ear at the full range of frequencies gives the average hearing level in dBHL (decibels of hearing loss). The typical predicted impacts of different levels of hearing loss, as cited by the Global Burden of Disease Expert Group, are*:
Better ear average hearing level in decibels of hearing loss (dB HL)
Hearing in a quiet environment
Hearing in a noisy environment
Does not have problems hearing what is said
May have real difficulty following/ taking part in a conversation
May have difficulty hearing a normal voice
Has difficulty hearing and taking part in conversation
Can hear loud speech
Has great difficulty hearing and taking part in conversation
Can hear loud speech directly in one’s ear
Has very great difficulty hearing and taking part in conversation
*Impact on each person will vary, depending on: which frequencies are most affected; lifestyle; education or employment setting; any other needs such as any co-morbidities, learning difficulties, use of English as second language and so on.
- For research, and some clinical purposes, the terms ‘mild’ and ‘moderate’ are sometimes used to describe different levels of hearing loss. These terms are misleading, as they do not reflect the impact that these levels of hearing loss will have on the individual, the numbers of people affected, or the consequences of not addressing hearing loss at these levels.
- We have estimated data on the number of people living with hearing loss for every local authority area across England in 2014 and the projected prevalence in 2019.
- Around 900,000 people have severe or profound deafness, at least 24,000 of whom use British Sign Language (BSL). There is a vibrant Deaf community in the UK, with a shared history, culture and language, who consider their deafness part of their identity.
- Age-related damage to the cochlea is the single biggest cause of hearing loss. It is the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
- 71.1% of over-70-year-olds and 41.7% of over-50-year-olds have some kind of hearing loss. R
- Hearing loss increases the risk of dementia by up to five times – but there is good evidence that hearing aids reduce these risks.
- Research shows that hearing loss doubles the risk of developing depression and increases the risk of anxiety and other mental health issues.
- Hearing aids are free on the NHS (except in one CCG area – see our campaign for more details) and provide huge benefits to people with hearing loss at a small cost to the NHS of less than £100 each.
- Less than 1% of the total investment in medical research by public and charity funders was spent on hearing research in 2014 – the equivalent of just £1.11 for every person affected.
- One in 10 adults across the UK experiences tinnitus, with recent data showing that this increases to nearly 17% of 40 to 69-year olds and 25-30% of over 70s.
- Tinnitus can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health, relationships with family and friends and their ability to sleep, concentrate and work.
- An estimated 32,000 new cases of tinnitus were diagnosed in England in 2015.
- Whilst there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to manage the condition, including counselling, products such as tinnitus relaxers and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- GPs only refer 37% of their tinnitus patients to tinnitus services and there is a substantial variation in these services across the UK.
- 41% (just over two-fifths) of NHS audiology providers offer a range of tinnitus services – specialist support, information, tinnitus retraining therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Listen to our tinnitus simulation to discover how some people experience tinnitus.
Scotland key facts
- 945,000 people in Scotland are Deaf or have hearing loss.
- 13,000 people in Scotland use British Sign Language (BSL) at home.
- More than 500,000 people in Scotland have a form of tinnitus.
Wales (Cymru) key facts
- 575, 500 people in Wales have hearing loss. This is more than the populations of Cardiff and Swansea combined.
- 244,000 people in Wales have a form of tinnitus. This could fill the Principality Stadium three times over.
- 12,000 people in Wales have severe tinnitus which affects their quality of life.
- Councils in Wales have cut their equipment budgets to help deaf people by an average of 15% over the last four years.
Action on Hearing Loss, 2015. Hearing Matters. London: Action on Hearing Loss.
Action on Hearing Loss, 2015. Tinnitus service provision across the UK: a research brief. London: Action on Hearing Loss.