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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"The new disposable aid is small, discreet and easily available"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
First disposable hearing aid launched
Hearing aid in the ear
The disposable aid sits discretely in the ear
The world's first disposable hearing aid has been launched - and experts hope it will encourage more people to address their hearing problems.

The tiny Songbird hearing aid has been designed to be thrown away after just six weeks.

This means that users do not have to worry about maintenance, battery replacements or repairs.


Exposure to loud music at concerts and clubs has taken its toll on the 'baby boomers' of the 60's and 70's

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Defeating Deafness

The US manufacturers say the Songbird hearing aid will cost just 22 a month per ear, but tests show it is just as good and better than some of the latest digital hearing aids, which can cost as much as 1,500 for the initial outlay.

Stigma

High street chemist chain Boots will be offering the hearing aids through its two new Hearingcare centres in Manchester and Birmingham - 45 more centres are due to launch by this autumn.

Boots hope that using the disposable aid will encourage people worried about the stigma of hearing aids to seek help.

They say the new aid is less obvious than more traditional hearing aids and the initial outlay less.

Margaret Fells, who road tested the hearing aid said she was delighted with the clarity of sound.

"I can hear stuff I did not know I could not hear before, like clocks ticking and birds singing and my small grand-children speaking.

"It is lovely."

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Defeating Deafness, the UK's only medical research charity for deaf people, said she hoped the new device will lead to more people tackling their hearing problems.

"It is a misconception that hearing problems can only affect the elderly.

"All the evidence points to the fact that exposure to loud music at concerts and clubs has taken its toll on the 'baby boomers' of the 60's and 70's, many of whom are now experiencing difficulty hearing, but may be embarrassed about admitting it or reluctant to give a hearing aid a try."

James Strachan, chief executive of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID), said the new hearing aid would increase the options available.

"RNID welcomes Boot's return to the private hearing aid market since this will increase the range of options available to deaf and hard of hearing people."

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See also:

25 Mar 01 | Health
Ear cells 'could restore hearing'
18 Jan 00 | Health
Hi-tech hearing aids free on NHS
28 Jun 00 | Health
Hearing tests for all newborns
27 Feb 01 | Health
Mind unlocks tinnitus secret
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