University urges Scots to open their ears to hearing loss

By Press Office

The first university in Scotland to offer degree-level education in audiology is urging Scots to open their ears and eyes to hearing loss.

Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh is helping to make people more aware about hearing loss with the launch of a new permanent display showcasing two centuries of hearing aid technology, including an early 20th century ear trumpet, spectacle aid and a 1970s conversation tube.

The unique display of 28 devices is not only a celebration of advancements in digital hearing aid technology, it is also helping audiologists at QMU demonstrate how pioneering research is having a positive impact on the lives of those with hearing difficulties and deafness.

There are over one million people in Scotland with some degree of hearing loss and an estimated two million people across the UK who use hearing aids. Every year in Scotland around 75 children are born deaf, around five of them with a severe to profound hearing loss. There are also an estimated 3,000 children and young people under 25 with severe to profound hearing loss in Scotland.

On Wednesday 18th May 2016, experts from the Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre at QMU will be joined by other researchers and practitioners from across Scotland to help launch the ‘Scottish Hearing Aid Collection’ of over 100 devices. Experts will also celebrate a decade of audiology research and education at QMU and discuss the positive impact this pioneering research is having on the lives of those with hearing difficulties and deafness.

The Collection offers students and practitioners in audiology and hearing aid dispensing, as well as the wider public, a unique insight into the two centuries of hearing aid technology. It includes examples of some of the earliest acoustic devices, non-electrical hearing aids.

The Scottish Hearing Aid Collection was donated by Dr Robin Barr-Hamilton, who helped set up the first Audiology programme at QMU. The Collection is also sponsored by the Oticon Foundation, the charitable foundation of hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon.

Dr Robin Barr-Hamilton, said: “Most of the hearing aids in the collection were passed to me by old colleagues, from Glasgow, Manchester and elsewhere, who could not bear to throw anything away. We are grateful for that inability! My thanks go to Queen Margaret University, and to the Sponsor, who have seen the historical value of, and educational potential in, the resource. My hope is that the collection will expand as the hearing aids made in recent years themselves become museum pieces.”

QMU is continuing to offer a growing range of undergraduate, masters level and PhD programmes in audiology, including expanding its audiology research in person-centred care. Experts from the Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre are also working with colleagues in the NHS to set up dedicated audiology clinics at QMU.

Christine DePlacido from QMU’s Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Dr Barr-Hamilton and Oticon Foundation for helping us mark our 10th anniversary by housing the Scottish Hearing Aid Collection at QMU.

“There are very few collections of hearing aids as comprehensive as this in the UK outside London. We feel it provides the University with an unrivalled opportunity to raise awareness about hearing loss and deafness, as well as providing audiology students and members of the public with a deeper understanding of the evolution of the modern hearing aids.”

Gavin Lockhart from Oticon, added: “The Oticon Foundation recognised the merits in ensuring the Collection found a suitable home to tell its story. Where better to showcase this Collection than QMU - a source of lifeblood for the future of audiology?”

Janis McDonald, Chief Officer for the Scottish Council on Deafness, said: “I’m delighted to support the launch of the Scottish Hearing Aid Collection at QMU, as it marks a decade of university-level education in audiology. This special occasion not only celebrates the heritage of hearing aid technology, but also the positive contribution that research and education have had on improving the lives of deaf people over the years.

“As Scotland’s lead organisation for deaf issues in Scotland, we aim to ensure that deaf people across the country can access services and information across all sectors of society and empower deaf people in their own communities.”

Notes to Editor

Jonathan Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: T: 0131 474 0000.

Useful links:

QMU’s Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre

Oticon Foundation

deafscotland (formerly the Scottish Council on Deafness) 

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