Hearing loss and deafness
Hearing loss and deafness are very common and affects around one in six people in the UK and more than 70 per cent of people aged over 70. It can range in severity from mild loss of hearing to total deafness and may affect only one ear or both. Hearing loss can make some day-to-day tasks harder, but help is available and technology can help you stay connected.
Hearing loss and deafness can be caused by a number of medical conditions such as genetic abnormalities, viral infections, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Ménière’s disease, a perforated eardrum, some medications, or repeated exposure to loud noises. However the most common cause of hearing loss is simply getting older.
If you need to have the volume on your television or music turned up high, don’t hear the doorbell, smoke alarm or the phone, or you are having difficulty following what people are saying, it may be a sign you have some loss of hearing.
You can find out more about causes of hearing loss on the NHS website.
If you think that you may be losing your hearing, there are important steps you can take.
Talk to your family and friends to make them aware of your difficulties in hearing.
Make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP will be able to advise whether you need further referral to have your hearing checked.
You can also find more information about hearing loss on the following websites - most of which have an online chat function.
Sight loss and blindness
Sight or vision loss can affect you in various ways, from loss of your central or peripheral vision to total blindness. It can be caused by a variety of conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, visual cortex disorder, genetic defects or an injury. It affects around one in 30 people in the UK and one in five people aged over 75.
Different conditions may cause particular forms of sight loss and these can affect people in different ways. Age-related macular degeneration may make your central vision blurry or distorted when you look directly at something such as the TV. Cataracts are a common condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and this can make your vision misty.
Someone who has lost their detail vision but still has their peripheral or side vision may be able to see a needle on the floor but not read the sell by date on a carton of milk. The same person may be able to see better on one day than another or in a different place if their vision is affected by varying light conditions.
For more information about various eye conditions and their effects, go to the RNIB website.
If you think that you may be losing your hearing
- Talk to your family and friends to make them aware of your difficulties.
- Go to the RNID website and book a free hearing check.
- Make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP will be able to advise whether you need further referral to have your hearing checked.
Getting an eye test
It is estimated that 50 per cent of sight loss could be avoided. One simple thing you can do is get an eye test. In some cases your sight could be improved simply by different glasses or cataract surgery.
Registering as sight impaired/severely sight impaired
If you have sight loss, you may be able to register as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. You will need to see your GP and ask them to refer you to an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will assess and issue you with a Certificate of Vision Impairment. For more information on other support available for people with a disability, visit our 'Physical disability' section.
Using equipment and technology
There are many ways that equipment and technology can help you stay connected and independent if you have sight or hearing loss.
Computers screens can be adapted to make them easier to read or to talk aloud; books are available in different formats such as large print, braille and audio; television programmes can be audio-described so that you hear what is happening on screen; and talking phones or phones with large buttons may be easier to use if you can’t see well.
Equipment and gadgets such as amplified phones, vibrating alarm clocks, flashing door bells and conversation amplifiers can help you if you can’t hear well.
If you are struggling around your home due to a visual impairment, contact the Rehabilitation Officers for the Visually Impaired (ROVIs) - see below for contact details.
Rehabilitation Officers for the Visually Impaired (ROVIs)
Rehabilitation officers for the visually impaired (ROVIs) are trained staff from West Sussex County Council’s Independent Living Service who provide support for adults who are sight impaired, blind or have dual-sensory (sight and hearing) loss. They can:
- offer advice, information and an assessment in your own home
- direct you to the most appropriate service
- offer mobility and daily living skills training
- help you register as severely sight impaired or sight impaired
- provide welfare benefits advice
- provide equipment.
You can request help from the ROVI team by using one of the methods below. Please let staff know if you have any special communication or access needs so that they can discuss your situation with you in the most suitable way.
Online: contact us
Phone: Adults CarePoint 01243 642121
NGT Text Relay: 18001 01243 642121 (Available as a downloadable app for computer tablets and smartphones. Helps people with speech and hearing difficulties.)
Adults' CarePoint 1
Second Floor, The Grange
Changing Focus - large print information
You can also find more information about the available support in the large-print booklet Changing Focus.
Dual sensory loss
Dual-sensory loss is when you have loss of both sight and hearing. This can bring additional challenges to day to day life, for example, communicating with others, finding the information you need, and getting out and about. If you are Deaf and a British Sign Language (BSL) user who has additional sight loss or if you were born deaf and blind and would like an assessment of your dual sensory needs, please contact County Deaf Services Team.
County Council Deaf Services
Advice, information and support for adults who are Deaf or hard of hearing, including:
- carrying out an assessment of your needs and helping you to find solutions
- suggesting other organisations who may be able to help you
- referring you to other services who can assist you
- arranging specialist equipment such as alerting and listening devices to help you in your home
- registration as Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- support to enable independence and wellbeing.
County Deaf Services can also help if you are deaf and a British Sign Language user and need advice or help because you have difficulties:
- accessing information in a way you can understand it
- contacting other agencies/services
- managing your day to day activities
- making or keeping in touch with family and friends and you feel isolated.
You can request help using one of the methods below. Please let staff know if you have any special communication or access needs so that they can discuss your situation with you in the most suitable way.
Online: contact us
Phone: 01243 642121
Calls via Relay UK: 18001 01243 642121 (for deaf callers from a textphone or NGT Lite or Relay UK app downloaded onto a computer, tablet, or smartphone)
SMS: 07736 093462 (text only)
ACP Duty - Deaf
Adults' CarePoint 1
Second Floor, The Grange
4 Sight Vision Support
4 Sight are an independent charity which offer support across West Sussex to people with sight loss and to those supporting people with sight loss. More information can be found on their website.
Sight Support Worthing
Sight Support Worthing are a charity which support people with sight loss. They can assist and advise with benefits and advocacy, wellbeing, 1-2-1 transport, and more. You can find out more information on their website.