Know Your Rights
You may be entitled to financial help and support if you have a hearing loss. This can help cover the cost of specialist equipment and communication services to help you in your daily life – at home, at work or in higher education.
Your local authority’s social services department may be able to help provide specific equipment so do contact them. A social worker will visit you to assess what products could benefit you.
Deafness and hard of hearing is known as the Hidden Disability, for the obvious reason that for all intents and purposes, we, the deaf and deafened people, appear to be ‘normal’ but are, in fact, disabled. We should not shrink from this label. It is a fact and should be utilised in seeking help, not least from Government.
The UK Government’s definition of a disability is ‘a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. The inability to hold a conversation with someone talking in a normal voice or the inability to hear and understand another person talking clearly over the voice telephone is regarded as the substantial adverse effect. Hearing loss in these circumstances has to be taken into account with the effect of background noise. Any steps taken to treat or correct a person’s hearing loss do not apply and this, importantly, means that, even if a person has a cochlear implant or a hearing aid, their hearing without these aids is what defines the level of their disability.
There are particular areas of legislation and government help that can be of use to us; the Employment and Support Allowance concerning benefits and support both at home and in employment; the Personal and Independance Payment, a tax-free benefit payment; and Access to Work, concerning employment and working situations. The following articles give a brief background to each of these areas and viewers should seriously consider how each might be useful to them.
The full range of Government help for the disabled (which includes deaf & deafened people) can be seen at www.direct.gov.uk/disability. There’s a large section covering disability rights, financial support, employment, health and support, home equipment and links to charities and organisations concerned.