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We're running a community project in Stirling and Clackmannanshire in central Scotland. If you live in the area, do join in.

The project involves local people helping to bring about positive and practical change to make shops, cafes, restaurants, meeting rooms and other public places more hearing-friendly. Drop us a note to find out more.

Welcome, we're glad you found us

Ideas for Ears helps people and organisations to overcome the impact that hearing ability can have on enjoyment, participation and opportunity.

Amongst other things, we run community projects to help gather feedback on hearing-related issues that impact on the way people can use local facilities and services. We share this information through our NEW Rate & Review site.

We also support businesses and organisations by providing insights and practical support so they are better placed to meet the needs of people who have hearing loss and other hearing conditions.

Causes of hearing difficulties 

It is common for people to have hearing difficulty and it is caused in two main ways:

1) the environment or situation is set up to be difficult. For instance, a room with poor acoustics, a telephone with poor sound quality, people not speaking clearly.

2) the hearing ability of the individual. The way people hear varies greatly amongst groups of friends, family members, customers and staff. Some will have perfect hearing, whilst others might have hearing loss or problems hearing in noisy places or perhaps sound intolerance or another hearing issue.

Hidden in plain sight

'Hearing' is fundamental to so much of life yet it typically goes unnoticed, assumed to just happen easily and automatically.

But hearing is not easy and automatic in many situations and environments and it is not easy and automatic for many people.

Fortunately, the issues can often be overcome or improved.

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The double whammy

Environments and situations that are set up to have difficult hearing conditions are challenging for everyone. But for those who have hearing loss and other hearing conditions, there is a double whammy of difficulty.

People can, if possible, take steps to improve their own hearing ability. For instance, they might make use of hearing aids or other devices, or develop skills like lipreading, or use tactics like positioning themselves where they will hear best.

But you cannot solve a double whammy of difficulty all by yourself. Service providers must share the responsibility by taking steps to make spaces and places more comfortable and appropriate for all hearing abilities.

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Steps to take

Organisations  Review customer and staff environments. Have you unwittingly created a double whammy for people who have hearing loss and other hearing conditions? Ask us to support you in checking your facilities and services. 

People like you  Rate and review your experiences, or ask us for paper forms you can carry with you, complete and send back. Tell us how well you can hear and participate in any place you visit (meeting room, shop, cafe, pharmacy and more). Have a look at solutions that can be made available in public places. Discover what is available for personal use.

It's worth knowing

People can bluff for years. It can take ten years or more for people to recognise that they have hearing loss. Gradual decline can be hard to spot, as can the creeping number of instances of pretending to hear things when you haven't.

Hearing aids are tiny technological marvels but they do have limits. They do not fix hearing as glasses fix vision, it just isn't possible. And incredible though they are, they aren't very good at picking up sound beyond about six feet.

Taking steps to hear well is important. The brain needs to continually hear sound and speech in the right way so it stays sharp and adept at interpreting that sound. If the sound becomes faded, dull or woolly then the brain isn't being stimulated in the right way and cognitive decline is a real and proven risk.

Straining to hear is draining. The effort of listening absorbs brain energy. For people with hearing loss and other hearing issues, the energy required can cause significant mental and physical fatigue. It is all the more draining when the listening is being done in situations and environments that are set up to be difficult to hear in.

Things to ponder

  • Hearing ability varies widely. Some people have occasional difficulties, others have difficulties all the time.
  • Service providers often unintentionally make things difficult because they do not understand the issues.
  • Lots of people with generally good hearing can struggle to decipher speech in noisy places.
  • For hearing aid users, background noise can be a killer.
  • Dignity matters - most people choose not to reveal the hearing difficulties they experience.