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      We’ve helped millions of people in the century since our charity began. Our key events show how we’ve been changing lives from our start in 1911 right up to today.

      But our work is not over yet, with your support, we can change the lives of even more people with hearing loss and tinnitus. 

      Key events

      • 1911 On 9 June, Leo Bonn, founds The National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf
      • 1924 We reorganise the charity to raise our post-war profile and rename it The National Institute for the Deaf.
      • 1929 We open our first residential care home in Lancashire, going on to become one of the UK’s leading specialist-care providers.
      • 1939 We support the war effort by sending hearing aids to deaf prisoners of war, which can be converted into miniature radio receivers for spying purposes!
      • 1946 We launch The Silent Word, a monthly magazine to give deaf people a voice and spread information about hearing issues.
      • 1948 We successfully lobby the newly formed NHS to provide free hearing aids and batteries UK-wide.     
      • 1957 We launch our first helpline, the Personal Advice Bureau, to answer the increasing number of queries we receive.
      • 1958 We’re delighted that HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose mother was deaf from birth, becomes our royal patron.
      • 1961 The Queen approves the addition of ‘Royal’ to our name for our jubilee year. We become the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
      • 1974 Following our research, the NHS issues behind-the-ear hearing aids.
      • 1983 We successfully campaign for rubella vaccinations for young women. The virus, which can cause deafness and other disabilities in unborn babies, has since been virtually wiped out in the UK.
      • 1989 Michael Batt becomes the first British child to receive a cochlear implant, following almost a decade of research and work with surgeons at the Royal Ear Hospital.
      • 2000 Following our campaign with the National Deaf Children’s Society, all newborn babies are offered hearing screening by the NHS. We also start working with the NHS to deliver modern digital hearing aids as standard.
      • 2004 Research we fund links a type of gene, called a microRNA, to hearing loss for the first time. This work opens up a new field of research into hearing loss.
      • 2011 A big year for us as we celebrate our 100th birthday and change our name to Action on Hearing Loss. We also launch our Translational Research Initiative for Hearing (TRIH), which encourages pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus.
      • 2012 Research funded by us shows human stem cells restore hearing in deafened gerbils – a breakthrough in the search for a way to restore natural hearing.
      • 2013 We merge with medical charity Deafness Research UK. Together, and with more funding, we’re determined to cure hearing loss within a generation.
      • 2015 Our Hearing Matters report highlights hearing loss as a major public health issue, and urges immediate action.
      • A new genetic test for hearing loss becomes available on the NHS as a result of research we funded. The test screens for most of the known genes that cause deafness.
      • 2016 Research breakthrough identified the first gene, SERPINF1, to cause otosclerosis, a condition leading to deafness.


      At Action on Hearing Loss, our staff and volunteers are the heart of our organisation – along with all our amazing members and supporters. We’re incredibly grateful for everything they do.