Review of 2009 for deaf children… and predictions for 2010

Well, we’re already a week into the new decade / ice age, but for my first blog post of 2010, I’d like to look back at some of the highlights / lowlights of NDCS campaigns in 2009.

The big one has to the campaign victory on acoustics, which dominated most of our campaigning activity from the past year. It was great to see all of our work, including a parliamentary event, briefings to MPs and mentions in parliamentary debates, reports on how lots of local authorities didn’t have a clue about the quality of acoustics in their new schools, all make a difference. The Government announcement in October that it would take action to require testing in new schools was a delicious moment which will make a big difference to the quality of education for deaf children.

Although it was quite a long time ago, the announcement back in January last year that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) would recommend cochlear implants as an option in one or both ears for all severely / profoundly deaf children was another biggie for deaf children. It follows lots of concerted and co-ordinated lobbying by NDCS and other deaf charities. A year on, nearly all local health bodies seem to be doing a good job with getting on with implementing the recommendations.

And although the dust hasn’t really settled on it yet, the Lamb inquiry into the special educational needs system offers the promise of lots of significant changes for deaf children and their parents. Laws are being changed as we speak by the Government to implement some of its recommendations.

For me, personally, the highlight is supporting and watch deaf young people campaigning in action for NDCS, whether at party conferences or our parliamentary events. It’s always good to see parliamentarians walk away realising what deaf children can achieve, providing they’re given the right support. It was also great to see Louis Kissaun, a deaf young star, on Shameless, the Channel 4 programme, this year.


The continuing failure by the BBC to provide access to its online news content continues to be depressing, especially on news stories that feature deaf children and young people. Quite a few people clearly seemed to have skipped class the day they were covering disability awareness training at the BBC.

And the continuing problems with Phonak Naida hearing aids are also a bit of a worry, though it’s good to see that the powers that be are working hard on this problem as we speak.

Predictions for 2010?

Apparently, there’s going to be a general election in a few months. Whatever the result, there are going to be a lot of new faces in Parliament and lots of new ideas for how schools and hospitals should be run. NDCS will be busy getting to grips with the new political landscape and making sure deaf children are high on the agenda.

It also looks as if we’re going to be doing a lot more campaign work around audiology services this year. More to follow on this, but a range of issues are cropping up, for example, on the training of audiologists. NDCS will be on alert making sure deaf children get the audiology services they need.

Here’s hoping it’s a good new year for deaf children and NDCS campaigns. Please do keep sending in your comments, thoughts and any stories about how deaf children in your area are doing. We’ll do our best to respond and incorporate into our campaign work. Happy new year!


NHS letter on Phonak Naida hearing aids

In response to a blog I did on Phonak Naida Hearing Aids, someone mentioned that their audiologist seemed to a bit clueless about the technological problems that are occuring in some of these hearing aids.

If you’re one of these people, then take this letter from the NHS to your audiologist. It’s an acknowledgement by the NHS that some problems are occuring and that such hearing aids need to be replaced. It should have gone out to all audiologists but it’s clearly not always getting through to everyone…

Now that I’m getting used to my new hearing aids, they do definitely seem to be better. I sometimes feel that I’m now hearing the kind of noises that only dogs could hear whenever there was a full moon…

Bling but dodgy new Naida hearing aids

A few months back, I got some funky new hearing aids. Called Phonak Naida, they basically take high frequency noises and turn them into something that those with a high frequency hearing loss can hear. More importantly, they come in a range of colours and I’m now able to abandon the boring old brown hearing aids and go for something a bit more colourful – black and silver. I sometimes now feel I’ve got more bling than Beyonce.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my teething problems. I had to take my first set back as the volume just collapsed within a few days. And then I started hearing strange internal feedback noises on the second set. But things now seem to have settled down and I’ve slowly been getting used to everything sounding different. And I do indeed seem to be picking up a wider band of noises.

However, the word on the street – or rather the NDCS Parent Place forum – is that these new hearing aids have been very volatile and unreliable, and that I’m not a one off. As a deaf, reasonably assertive, adult with a good audiology department, this is a pain but not a huge problem – I can just go back and get it fixed. I was also lucky enough to be allowed to keep my old hearing aid as a back up.

But we’re hearing that some deaf children are not so lucky – that they don’t have a back up and they’re not able to get a quick appointment at their audiology department. Also, younger deaf children may not necessarily realise there’s something wrong. It’s likely to have a major impact on children affected who will still be going to school, etc. So it’s a bit worrying, to say the least, that these technical problems seem to be sporadically popping up and it’s a problem that needs to be fixed asap.

NDCS is taking our concerns to the manufacturers, and calling for better quality control before new hearing aids are rolled out, and remaining vigilant. I guess the moral is that the bling gets you nowhere if you can’t hear Beyonce on the stereo.

In the meantime, have you come across any problems with the Phonak Naida hearing aids? How have they been resolved? Be good to hear from you if so.