What a year for hearing loss and deaf equality campaigning!
As 2018 draws closer, we want to take a moment to reflect on the amazing progress you’ve helped us make this year, as we strive for equal access for people confronting hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus.
2017 has been really successful across our national and local campaigning – and we really couldn’t have done it without you! So here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve achieved together…
The year got off to a flying start with the launch of our employment campaign: Working for Change. Research shows that by far the biggest barrier people with hearing loss face in the workplace is employer attitudes – so we’re campaigning to make sure businesses feel confident about employing people who are deaf or have hearing loss. We’ve already held two well-attended parliamentary events and engaged with over 50 number of MPs and councillors. And thanks to everyone who’s completed our survey: we’ll be making a splash with the findings in January.
We changed the law! Thanks to more than 6,000 people who took an active part in our Subtitle it! campaign, parliament passed a law giving Ofcom new powers to legally enforce subtitles on video-on-demand services. Read more about how we all made it happen – and what’s to come.
Over 700 of you helped shape the future of the Charity’s campaigns when you completed our future plans survey. We’ll launch our new five-year strategy next April next year. Watch this space to see how we’ll be campaigning to improve the lives of people with hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus between 2018 and 2023 – and how you can play a significant part.
The Speak Easy campaign grabbed the headlines as we shared statistics and stories of just how loud so many restaurants really are. Shocking and sad tales of noisy restaurants preventing people with hearing loss from enjoying a meal out with friends and loved ones made it into the Daily Mail, I-news, Daily Express, Financial Times and ITV to name a few. Many of you also featured in your local press by generously sharing your personal experiences of outings ruined by noisy restaurants. Thank you if you took part. And you can still help us raise awareness in your area. This comprehensive and affecting media coverage really caught the industry’s attention: we’ve already had exciting meetings with several key industry figures. So stay tuned – there’ll be more to come in the New Year!
Not wanting to let all the excitement around Speak Easy die down, we launched the #DecibelSquad – an online community of people calling for restaurants, cafes and bars to reduce background noise. As we go to press, the group already has over 250 active members and has been instrumental in showing just how strong the appetite for change in restaurant acoustics is.
Over a thousand of you, and counting, shared your stories of hearing loss in the workplace in our Working for Change survey. We’re so grateful to all of you who’ve taken part: your experiences will be invaluable in shaping the next phase of the campaign – enabling us to present real-life examples of the barriers people face in the workplace to employers. This survey is open until the end of December, so you’ve still got time to share your past or present, good or bad, experience of hearing loss in the workplace.
Local wins this year
Congratulations to our committed campaigners in Wales, who persuaded the Minister for Social Services to agree to update guidance on the funding of specialist equipment for people with hearing loss. When we found that some Welsh councils spend less than 15p per person on this vital tech, more than 700 of you contacted your local authority. The campaign also had the support of several Welsh politicians.
Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s big campaign success of 2017 is ensuring 3,500 people across Ayrshire & Arran are supported to use their NHS hearing aids.
Volunteers and service users engaging their elected representatives helped to persuade the local health and social care partnership leading the regional joint sensory strategy to save ‘Hear to Help’ with only days to spare.
An initial six months of funding was followed by two more tranches before a decision was taken to fully integrate the service within the region’s three local partnerships.
We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to develop relationships with Northern Irish parliamentary champions. We met with two MPs – Jim Shannon and Gregory Campbell – and four members of the Legislative Assembly in November alone! This parliamentary support will be vital for ensuring the success of our campaigning across the province in 2018.
It’s been a busy year for our England Health campaign, On the Record. We’ve been campaigning to strengthen the new Accessible Information Standard to make sure people who are deaf or have hearing loss can easily access health services. In March, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) promised to improve the way it monitors compliance with the Accessible Information Standard (AIS). In July, NHS England released a report summarising the progress that has been made and highlighting where work is still needed. In tandem with working with CQC and NHS England to ensure the standard is upheld, we’ve also been gathering your feedback, which we’ll be publishing in a new report in early 2018. This year has definitely brought us closer to equal access to health services for people who are deaf or have hearing loss but there’s still a long way to go.
This year we’ve also successfully campaigned to protect hearing aid services in England. With the enthusiastic support of local people, we stopped proposals to cut hearing aid services in Milton Keynes and Enfield. Both Milton Keynes and Enfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) dropped plans to scale back provision after listening to the views of local supporters who rely on NHS hearing aid services – and examining the hard evidence we put forward. As we go to press, hearing aids remain available on the NHS in all local areas except North Staffordshire where we continue to campaign against the cutbacks. More information on our Hands off our Hearing Aids campaign can be found here.
Together we can make sure our campaigning in 2018 is even bigger and better, by building on the progress we’ve made this year. There are more partnerships with restaurants on the horizon, as well as exciting plans for major campaigning to shift employer attitudes in January and May (during Deaf Awareness Week). To make sure you stay up to date with all the work we’re doing – and for the opportunity to be involved in making change happen – sign up to our campaigns network.