Technology - Action On Hearing Loss: RNID
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Please install the Flash Plugin Remember when the telephone was the main way to communicate with someone from a distance? Not so long ago people who struggled to hear on the phone were cut off from many aspects of life. If you have hearing loss and you're over 40, you might recall having to arrange events by return of post – how times have changed!

Nowadays, text messages, email and instant messaging (to mention just a few) have transformed the way people communicate. But there is still a need for dedicated technology that meets the needs of people with hearing loss and tinnitus.This is where we come in. With many years of expertise and achievements behind us, we develop, test, produce and evaluate all kinds of new technology, often in collaboration with others and always by taking into account the views of potential users. Examples of our work include:


If you have difficulty making voice calls, you can now contact the emergency services by a text message from your mobile phone. EmergencySMS is part of the standard 999 service, designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.

Since September 2009, the EmergencySMS service has successfully handled hundreds of real emergency calls. In our Impact Report 2010 Michael and Jessica, who are profoundly deaf, talk about how their baby was born safely thanks to this service.

How do I use EmergencySMS?

To use this service you need to register first: 

  • Text 'register' to 999.
  • You will get sent a reply – simply follow the instructions.

In an emergency

Text 999, and give the following details:

  1. Who?
    Police, ambulance, fire and rescue or coastguard
  2. What?
    Briefly, what is the problem?
  3. Where?
    Give the name of the road, house number, postcode or nearby landmark, if possible.

Do not send test or non-emergency texts

This service works throughout the UK on all mobile networks, but it cannot be used from abroad.

For more information go to the EmergencySMS website(external link, opens new window) or you can download a leaflet about EmergencySMS . Contact our helpline to order a hard copy.

EmergencySMS was developed by Action on Hearing Loss, BT, Cable & Wireless, the Department of Communities and Local Government, Ofcom, the UK emergency services and all mobile network operators.

You can download a free PDF viewer from the Adobe website.

iPhone Hearing Check

Action on Hearing Loss iPhone app screenshot.

Action on Hearing Loss's iPhone Hearing Check is a quick, simple and completely confidential way to check your hearing, without the trek to the doctor's waiting room. Check your ears today! Download the check for free from itunes (external link, opens new window).

Our check is scientifically verified and is the best method of checking your hearing without seeing a medical professional. We have helped nearly a million people check their hearing already. Lend us your ears and check them today(external link, opens new window)

Just enter the numbers with the keypad, after you hear them. After the test you'll get your results and advice.

You can also check your hearing using our free online hearing check.


The Hearing Check is designed to be the best method of checking for sensorineural hearing loss (due to age or noise exposure for instance) without seeing a medical professional. It will not pick up problems with your outer or middle ear (conductive hearing losses).


Quality standards make sure that products are safe and effective to use. We work with other organisations to help set standards for products for people with hearing loss. We represent the needs of people with hearing loss and provide a good evidence base to support the development of standards.

Some of the key standards activities that we have contributed to include a British Standard for home smoke alarms for people who are deaf. 

The British Standards Institution's (BSI's) standard covers many areas of performance, including the brightness of visual alarms and the strength of vibration for alerting pads to alerting or waking people who are unable to hear an alarm in the event of fire.

There was no scientific data available about the amount of vibration needed to wake a sleeping deaf person. So we carried out research with the University of Exeter and the Respiratory Support and Sleep Centre at Papworth Hospital, and shared this information with the BSI.

Everyone should have smoke alarms in their home. You can buy alarms in our online shop. You can also find out more about different kinds of alerting devices in our equipment factsheet range.

We have also played a significant role in both the creation and revision of the BS Code of Practice for audio frequency induction loop systems (BS7594) – a listening system that is invaluable for users of hearing aids that have a 'T' setting. The code provides essential guidance to designers, installers and managers of induction loop installations, as well as being of potential interest to technically minded lay people.

The project to develop such a code in the first place was sanctioned by BSI in 1987 as a result of a formal request by us – the code being published in 1993. In 2011 it was significantly revised and updated to reflect experience gained during the intervening years – and demonstrating the importance that this technology still has for hearing aid users.


To increase the impact of our work, we work closely with others in many different fields, including academia, industry and other organisations concerned with sensory loss.

Our work spans the whole product development lifecycle, from concept proving and product prototyping to product evaluation and usability testing. Collaboration with others at all stages of the process helps to improve the final result – new technology that meets the needs of people with hearing loss.

If you are a product manufacturer working on something new, we can help assess your concept or prototype, operating under a non-disclosure agreement where necessary.

Our supporters and members are a vital part of our work, especially in evaluating products. Visit our product evaluation section to read more about how you can help.

We'd love to hear from you if you are interested in collaboration, or just want to know more.
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