Focus: Campaign of the week - RNID attempts to break a record

Indira Das-Gupta, indira.das-gupta@haynet.com

The pinnacle of this year's Deaf Awareness Week will be the RNID's record-breaking attempt to get 100,000 people to take a hearing test today.

One part of 'Britain's Biggest Sound Check', the RNID's record attempt, will be a communal hearing test for 2,000 people in the village of Sound in the Shetland Islands.

The awareness week, which is now in its fifth year, runs until the end of the week and was launched with the unveiling of new research that shows that deaf and hard-of-hearing people still face barriers to success at work.

According to the RNID survey, only 63 per cent of people with hearing problems who are of working age are in employment, compared with 75 per cent of the national workforce. More than half of the 915 people who took part in the survey - 53 per cent - cited the "attitude of employers" as one of the main barriers preventing them from finding employment. Of those currently in employment, 51 per cent felt they had been held back from promotion.

Susan Osborne, director of RNID's Breaking the Sound Barrier campaign, said: "There's still a lot of embarrassment and stigma about hearing loss, even though it affects about one in seven people. The British public thinks hearing loss is something that affects everyone else, but doesn't affect them."

"There's so much riding on this campaign because it's the slow train that's coming to all of us - 75 per cent of us will have some degree of hearing loss when we hit 70."

The RNID has been working with voluntary organisations such as the WRVS, the WI and Help the Aged, as well as businesses, to encourage employees to take the hearing test. The test can be done by phone, takes five minutes and costs only 15p.

Osbourne said: "People take an average of four years to get glasses, but some people wait up to 14 years to do anything about hearing loss."

The RNID is also linking up with the Fire Brigade to launch a smoke alarm designed for people with hearing problems - it vibrates and flashes as well as making a noise.

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