Four million 'should have hearing aid'

Last updated at 11:28 15 January 2006

Four million people in the UK could benefit from wearing a hearing aid but are doing nothing about it, according to a new campaign.

More than 150,000 people have so far taken a telephone hearing check as part of the Breaking the Sound Barrier Campaign from National charity RNID to raise awareness of the problem, figures showed today.

A TV ad promoting the hearing test was first broadcast on Christmas Day, with thousands inspired to take up the RNID's challenge.

Since then the charity said that calls to the number - 0845 600 55 55 - were averaging 5,500 a day.

More than 40 per cent of over-50s are estimated to experience some level of hearing loss.

John Low, RNID chief executive, said: "Some people may be struggling to stick to their New Year's resolutions, but checking your hearing is a simple and easy resolution to keep.

"Take RNID's hearing check and it takes just five minutes, putting you back in touch with friends, family and colleagues."

The campaign is supported by the TUC who want to encourage the UK's 28 million workers to take the test.

General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Many older people are struggling to get by at work either because they are too ashamed to admit their hearing loss, or because they have no idea what to do about it.

"Many may also be reluctant to advertise it for fear that their employers may treat them less favourably as a result.

"But good bosses know that it makes sense to do all they can to help employees be as productive as possible at work and so most will, I'm sure, be keen for their staff to take RNID's hearing check."

Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson said that he believed the test would help reconnect tens of thousands of people back to society.

"I have been involved in many public health campaigns over the years and this one is bold and imaginative in its approach to a subject which

has been taboo for far too long.

"I have taken this simple check and I urge others to follow my example."

Callers to the line are first greeted by a recorded message from TV presenter Eamonn Holmes before starting the test.

They are asked to listen to various voice recordings of three numbers played against rising

levels of background noise.

The caller uses the telephone keypad to select the digits they think they have heard.

They will then be told whether their hearing is within normal range, below normal or well below normal.

If well below normal, callers are encouraged to contact their GP and ask to be referred for an audiology test.