Hearing loss is a widely recognised problem in the UK and many organisations and charities have taken the responsibility to share useful information about its prevention and managing and helping the hard of hearing community and their families. To cope with the problem many people use hearing aids, various assistive listening devices, cochlear implants, TextRelay services, sign language or lip reading. Information and advice is available for all those who seek help and want to improve their condition.
One additional service that the hard of hearing can take advantage of is trained hearing dogs. This amazing opportunity has proved to be a big success among both adults and children who have hearing difficulty. The charity organisation Hearing Dogs for Deaf People provides the service and training of the dogs and accepts applications. The annual applications, however, are limited and there are is a huge demand. It is good to know that registration opens in April each year and everyone who complies with the requirements criteria is free to apply.
How do you apply for a hearing dog?
The application process for a hearing dog comprises several stages and is very thorough in order to provide a dog to those who need it the most and ensure that it will be well taken care of and will be suitable for the particular case of hearing loss and candidate lifestyle.
The first step you need to undertake to be considered for the programme is to visit the information day held in April in either Yorkshire or Buckinghamshire and receive an application form along with other documents you need to fill in and sign. After sending the forms to the centre, you will be contacted so that your suitability can be assessed as well as the degree and type of your hearing loss. Then you will be also able to see for yourself what is like to have a hearing dog by visiting the Training Centre. The next step is a home visit. A staff member will visit your home and workplace and see the environment and decide if it is appropriate for a hearing dog and how helpful the dog may be with the current arrangements in your home. If you have completed all those stages successfully, you will be informed about the status of your application. Once approved, you will be included on a waiting list. When the right dog for you is found, it will be trained in a specific way so that it can match your lifestyle and be of best service. The waiting time is usually around five years.
What are the Benefits of Hearing Dogs?
The careful selection, breeding and training of hearing dogs make them an indispensable companion for deaf or hard of hearing. They help in recognising important sounds such as doorbells, telephones ringing, smoke and clock alarms, etc. To inform their owner of a potential signal, they touch them and lead them to the sound or lie down.
Having a hearing dog increases the confidence and independence of the owner and reduces stress induced by simple tasks that demand hearing ability. In addition, the dogs help in developing a sense of responsibility and care as well as stimulate the person to be more communicative and open to the outside world.
About Hearing Direct
We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. HearingDirect offers a wide range of affordable products, as well as information resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing. We sell:
- Hearing aids,
- Accessories such as earplugs,
- and amplified devices such as super loud alarm clocks and amplified phones.