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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 06:30 GMT
Mobile help for hearing aid users
Man on mobile phone
The new device connects to a mobile phone
A device which is said to make it easier for people with hearing aids to use mobile phones has been invented by a Scottish company.

Hearing Enhancement, in Livingston, West Lothian, has created a system which stops aids from emitting a loud whistling noise when a mobile is held close.

The invention coincides with a campaign by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) to persuade the Scottish Executive to pay for digital hearing aids.

RNID campaigners urged MSPs on Thursday to back their call for modernised audiology services.


Hearing loss can leave people feeling alienated and alone

John Low
RNID

The charity said Scotland had fallen behind England and Wales in the modernisation of hearing aid services.

According to the RNID, one in five of the adult population in Scotland is deaf or hard of hearing.

It said 500,000 of these 730,000 people would benefit from a modern digital hearing aid, yet only 1.6% actually have one.

'Missing out'

In the meantime a new device, invented by Hearing Enhancement, promises to work with any hearing aid which has a T-Switch (Telecoil) function.

The company said the "PicoLoop" allows hearing aid wearers to use mobiles for voice communication, rather than just text messaging.

It looks like a small flip-style phone and is connected to the user's mobile by a single lead.

With a miniature antenna placed next to the hearing aid, the company described the result as "incredible volume and clarity".

PicoLoop
The PicoLoop: "Volume and clarity"

The only alternative in Scotland is to pay for private digital hearing aids, which cost up to 2,500.

RNID said this could be reduced to 70.75 by using the bulk purchasing power of the NHS.

The institute's chief executive, John Low, said: "It is about time that deaf and hard of hearing people were given access to modernised NHS audiology services and the latest digital hearing aid technology.

"Hearing loss can leave people feeling alienated and alone.

"Many patients in Scotland may be missing out on so much while waiting for new hearing aid technology to be introduced - whether an anniversary dinner, a new film, or the first words a grandchild speaks.

"The executive needs to realise how much is to be gained by investing in modernised audiology services and help deaf and hard of hearing people in Scotland."

See also:

17 May 02 | Wales
06 Feb 02 | Scotland
19 Jan 00 | Scotland
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