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UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


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Archive for the 'News' Category

Thank you and goodbye

By library-orthopaedics, on 15 October 2020

We’re sorry but we will be no longer adding new posts to this blog.

The good news is the blog will remain online in its current state for you to enjoy.

We thank you all for reading and posting your comments.

A big thank you also to Dominic for his many insightful posts.

Deaf People and Dementia

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 May 2013

By Mina Krishnan

Researchers from the Royal Association for Deaf People, the University of Manchester, City University (London) and UCL – including our own Professor Bencie Woll in the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre – have conducted a research project on deaf BSL (British Sign Language) users living with dementia: their understanding of it, their ease of access to appropriate services and the impact of dementia on the deaf community.  Following the government’s policy document, Living Well With Dementia: A National Dementia Strategy – which lays out recommendations for early diagnosis and greater access to relevant information, but doesn’t make clear how it will apply to deaf people – this project was set up by a team of researchers and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.

You have probably noticed that dementia has been in the news a lot lately.  Furthermore, connections between deafness and dementia have been indicated: for example, this recent news story, regarding recent research which suggests that deafness may in fact contribute to dementia.  Then there’s the difficulty of diagnosis among deaf people due to various factors, from problems with communication when attempting initially to consult doctors or hospital staff (about any health matters), to the unsuitability for sign language users of the tests currently used to identify cognitive disorders.

The research done for the Deaf People With Dementia project is vital to all of us; according to the WHO, the leading cause of hearing loss in adults is age-related (presbycusis).  Worldwide, this is believed to affect from one third to half of people over the age of 65 and more than half of those over 75; and this is expected to rise significantly during the next 20–30 years, especially in places like Europe and the U.S. where increasing life expectancy means an ageing population (WHO, 2011 – see link above).  With dementia believed to affect about 800,000 people in the UK – as well as, according to issue 733 of Bulletin (the official magazine of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, to which the library has a subscription if you’d like to come in and have a look) an estimated 25 million people knowing a close friend or family member with dementia – it seems highly likely that almost everyone will be affected at some point, either directly or indirectly.

Interested in finding out more?  You could try searching PubMed using terms such as deaf or deafness, hearing loss, presbycusis, dementia and so on.  If you’re a UCL student or staff member, it’s best to go via the electronic library web-page; or if you’re not, visit us here in the library where you’ll have greater access to articles using on-campus computers.  Of course, here in the library we’ll be happy to help you look for further information, too – just drop by during our opening hours or give us a call.

New Action on Hearing Loss Report, “A World of Silence”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 November 2012

Action on Hearing Loss has produced a new report, A World of Silence, on the challenges and problems facing older people in care home settings.

Care home residents are disproportionately affected by hearing loss. We estimate that around three-quarters of older people who live in these settings have a hearing loss and, as the number of people in care homes increases, more and more residents will be affected by hearing loss.

Here are some recent articles of possible interest on this topic and related issues:

Öberg M, Marcusson J, Nägga K, Wressle E.
Hearing difficulties, uptake, and outcomes of hearing aids in people 85 years of age.
Int J Audiol. 2012 Feb;51(2):108-15. Epub 2011 Nov 22.
PMID: 22107444

Domínguez MO, Magro JB.
Bedside balance testing in elderly people.
Curr Aging Sci. 2009 Jul;2(2):150-7. Review.
PMID: 20021409

Health Quality Ontario.
Social isolation in community-dwelling seniors: an evidence-based analysis.
Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2008;8(5):1-49. Epub 2008 Oct 1.
PMID: 23074510
Free PMC Article

Tay T, Wang JJ, Lindley R, Chia EM, Landau P, Ingham N, Kifley A, Mitchell P.
Sensory impairment, use of community support services, and quality of life in aged care clients.
J Aging Health. 2007 Apr;19(2):229-41.
PMID: 17413133

Cook G, Brown-Wilson C, Forte D.
The impact of sensory impairment on social interaction between residents in care homes.
Int J Older People Nurs. 2006 Dec;1(4):216-24.
PMID: 20925766

Murphy J, Tester S, Hubbard G, Downs M, MacDonald C.
Enabling frail older people with a communication difficulty to express their views: the use of Talking Mats as an interview tool.
Health Soc Care Community. 2005 Mar;13(2):95-107.
PMID: 15717911

British Society of Audiology – Lunch and Learn eSeminars

By Alex P Stagg, on 19 September 2012

The British Society of Audiology are launching a new series of on-line presentations.

Called ‘Lunch & Learn‘, the eSeminars will be available free of charge and are provided in collaboration with Phonak iLearn. The link will be provided on Monday 1st October on the BSA and Phonak websites.

The Topic of the first seminar is: ‘Snake oil science: using ‘mild deception’ to demonstrate the influence of placebo and patient expectation on hearing aid benefit’. The Seminar will be presented by Prof. Kevin J Munro of the The University of Manchester.


Placebo effects— clinical responses associated with the expectations surrounding treatments rather than with any intrinsic property of the treatment—are wide-ranging and are recognized in medical research and clinical practice. Because of their importance, we examined placebo effects in a hearing aid trial using benefit measures typical of those used in clinical trials: speech in noise tests, sound quality ratings and overall personal preference. Our approach was to compare two hearing aids that were acoustically identical.  However, we used mild deception and informed the participants that they were comparing a conventional hearing aid with a new hearing aid.  On all of our measures, greater benefit was obtained with the ‘new’ hearing aid. Given the potential far reaching impact of these findings, we decided to repeat the study.  Once again, greater benefit was obtained with the ‘new’ hearing aid. These findings have important implications for hearing aid researchers. They suggest a need for caution when interpreting hearing aid trials which do not control for placebo effects. This is highly relevant to the UK National Health Service which currently spends around £60m/yr purchasing hearing aids. Our findings also have important implications for audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. It is likely that hearing aid users with positive expectations are more likely to experience benefit; therefore, the manipulation of expectations potentially offers an additional tool to maximize real benefit for audiology patients.



Jack Ashley 1922-2012

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 April 2012

Jack Ashley was President of Action on Hearing Loss, formerly the RNID, from 1987 when he succeeded Lord Chalfont. Losing his hearing in 1967 after an operation, in his two autobiographies Journey into silence (1973) and Acts of defiance (1992) Ashley describes how he came to be involved with the RNID. Helen Keller had recently died and there was talk of a joint Blind/Deaf fund in her memory. He hoped to bring the two groups together.

The General Secretary at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf was helpful and anxious that the venture should succeed. But he did not seem optimistic and I did not press him to explain his reservations. When I went to the Royal National Institute for the Blind I understood his pessimism. The building was far more impressive than that of the Institute for the Deaf and it was much better staffed; although by no means lavish, it was clearly better endowed. The General Secretary was pleasant, brisk and willing to consider any initiatives and attend exploratory meetings for a joint fund; but whereas the officials for the deaf strongly supported my provisional plan, those of the blind were not notably enthusiastic.

He continues further on,

I later learned that the blind have charitable donations of some £2,000,000 a year compared with £20,000 for the deaf. With public generosity biased to this extent, I began to understand why the blind chose to avoid cooperating with the deaf.

The poverty of the organisation for the deaf is a reflection of the striking difference in the public attitude to the two disabilities. The average person feels gratified helping a blind man across the road; he feels he has done his good deed for the day. But co-operation with the deaf involves positive and continuous help rather than a gesture which is soon over and done with. (Journey into silence p.164-5)

Ashley was approached by Air Vice-Marshal E.D.D. Dickson, Chairman of the RNID from 1960-1971, to go to Edinburgh and give the opening address at their biennial conference in October 1968.

The invitation posed an interesting question. Was I to begin campaigning for deaf people now that I was myself deaf, and would this be seen as special pleading? […]I thought the best thing would be to try to help deaf people in much the same way as I would aim to help all others who were disabled. (Acts of defiance1992, p.176).

Jack and Pauline in Edinburgh

Suffering from tinnitus, his memories of Edinburgh were dominated by “the shrieking and roaring in my head […] as they have on so many occasions since.” He had a warm reception, and spoke widely, including about his anger at attitudes to deafness in the public and media.

The audience responded generously, and the media coverage was extensive. At Edinburgh, I struck a small  blow for deaf people and passed another landmark in my own rehabilitation.

In Acts of defiance, Ashley devotes a chapter to deafness called Deaf World. He talks of his frustrations with patronising colleagues, the difficulties of trying to lip-read.  “In striking contrast to those prejudiced against deaf people, Princess Diana did all she could to help.” (ibid, p.344). He describes how he became RNID President –

The RNID, an old-established organisation, had an elderly feel when I first came into contact with it. After speaking at the Edinburgh conference in 1968, just after losing my hearing, my relationship with it was restricted to keeping in touch with its officers and speaking at occasional meetings.

However, in 1986, with new leaders and a more demanding membership, it became more thrusting and effective. Its Chief Executive, Mike Whitlam, gathered together a team of professional directors, clarified its image and adopted a higher profile.[…] He was supported by an energetic, intelligent Chairman, Winifred Tumin, the mother of two deaf daughters.[…] I served for a while on its General Management Committee and then, in October 1987, I was elected President.

Jack Ashley did a tremendous amount to help people in his life and we will just highlight some of his contributions in speaking out in the cause of Deaf People in Parliament and elsewhere for more than forty years –

  • He encouraged the government to make television companies to have a greater percentage of subtitles under the Broadcast Bill in 1990 than was originally intended (Acts of defiance 1992, p352-3).
  • Having seen how it helped his mother, in 1973 he pressed Keith Joseph to give all deaf people a behind-the-ear hearing aid free of charge (Acts of defiance 1992, p345).
  • Along with RNID representatives and the consultant and tinnitus expert Jonathan Hazell, he founded the British Tinnitus Association in a room at the House of Commons in November 1979  (Acts of defiance 1992, p.351).
  • He tabled an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to give official recognition to BSL and to remedy the shortage of fully trained interpreters (EDM 943). Sign Language. British Deaf News. 1991, Sep, 5.
  • The common belief that an 18th-century statute debarred ‘deaf and dumb’ people from becoming MPs was refuted by the Lord Chancellor in a letter to Lord Ashley stating that there is “nothing in common law, customs of Parliament or statute preventing a deaf person from becoming an MP”. See Hear, 1995, Dec, 6.
  • The All-Party Disablement Group is a Parliamentary group that was founded by Jack Ashley in 1969 and chaired by him for forty years . BABER, P. Never a backbench issue. Disability Now, 1998, Nov, 14.
  • The Jack Ashley Millennium Awards for Young Deaf People (1999-2002).  “By the end of the initiative’s three-year lifetime, 150 young deaf people had, between them, received £789,305 worth of awards.” Talk, 1999, 171, 6, and 172, 13; Talk, 2001, 182, 4. (Includes list of winners); Curtain comes down on Awards scheme. Talk, 2002, 189, 17; ‘Graduation’ ceremony honours UK’s finest. Talk, 2003, 191, 18-19.
  • His wife Pauline, a governor at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, with the help from specialists at the hospital established the Hearing Research Trust to help fund research into deafness (now Deafness Research UK) in 1985. Jack Ashley became the President.
  • The RNID and the Jules Thorne Charitable Trust had given funding to Graham Fraser, the pioneer of cochlear implants at UCL, for a programme of implants. In 1989 Ashley took a deputation that included Fraser to see the Health Minister David Mellor, who then managed to get NHS funding for a four year funding of cochlear implants.

UCL Provost Dr. Derek Roberts and Jack Ashley at the RNID Library, January 1994

City Lit Deaf Day 2012, 14th April, Covent Garden

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 March 2012

City Lit in London’s Covent Garden are  holding their annual Deaf Day on 14th of April. 

Deaf Day is the biggest event of its kind in the UK for anyone who is D/deaf or interested in D/deaf issues.

For more information, contact the Deaf Education team
Voice: 020 7492 2725
Minicom: 020 7492 2746
Email: deafday@citylit.ac.uk

Deafness and child abuse – some literature

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 February 2012

No one who read the story of the Deaf child who was kept in slavery and physically and mentally abused can fail to be appalled by her plight. Deaf children are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Here is a selection of books and articles on the subject (there are many more), followed by a few recent articles from Medline.


Glickman, Neil S & Gulati, Sanjay [Eds] Mental health care of deaf people: A culturally affirmative approach.  Mental health care of deaf people: A culturally affirmative approach. 2003

– The authors systematically review the special needs of deaf patients, particularly those who regard themselves as culturally Deaf, and provide professionals with the tools they require to meet those needs.

HEALTH CANADA Children and youth with a hearing loss: promoting mental health. Health Programs & Services Branch, Health Canada.  1994.  RNID Library: C6672(REF), C6673


LaBarre A  Treatment of sexually abused children who are deaf.  Sexuality and Disability, 1998, vol. 16 (4):321-324

MANNING S C, CASSELBRANT M, LAMMERS D.  Otolaryngologic manifestations of child abuse.  INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGY,  1990,  20(1),  7‑16

SWARTZ D B  Effective techniques in treating survivors of child sexual abuse: problematic areas in their  application to the deaf population.  SEXUALITY AND DISABILITY,  1995,  13(2),  135-144,  RNID Library location: C6927(REF)

Five Recent Medline Articles:

1. Clinical practice: The approach to the deaf or hard-of-hearing paediatric patient.
Smeijers AS, Ens-Dokkum MH, van den Bogaerde B, Oudesluys-Murphy AM.
Eur J Pediatr

. 2011 Nov;170(11):1359-63. Epub 2011 Jul 16.

PMID: 21766166 [PubMed – in process] Free PMC Article
Related citations


2. The lived experience of depression among culturally Deaf adults.
Sheppard K, Badger T.
J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs

. 2010 Nov;17(9):783-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01606.x.

PMID: 21040223 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations


3. Mental health referral and services for maltreated children and child protection evaluations of children with special needs: a national survey of hospital- and community-based medically oriented teams.
Montoya LA, Giardino AP, Leventhal JM.
Child Abuse Negl

. 2010 Aug;34(8):593-601. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

PMID: 20538339 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations


4. Child abuse and deafness: an overview.
Sebald AM.
Am Ann Deaf

. 2008 Fall;153(4):376-83.

PMID: 19146074 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations


5. The nature of victimization among youths with hearing loss in substance abuse treatment.
Titus JC.
Am Ann Deaf

. 2010 Spring;155(1):19-30.

PMID: 20503905 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations




Ocean Noise Is A Whale Of A Stressor – Science News

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 8 February 2012

Ocean Noise Is A Whale Of A Stressor – Science News.

This story explains how whales can be affected by the noise of ships. The original article is freely available here –



Teacher, academic, benefactor, Doreen Woodford

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 January 2012

Update: Online obituary on the Guardian –


Sad news for many people, we have just heard that Doreen Woodford died on 31st of December 2011. I think she was aged about 85. Doreen was a regular visitor to the RNID Library over many years when she was doing research on one of her many books on Deaf History, struggling up the stairs despite problems with her leg. Most recently she wrote about the Exclusive Brethren, and it was then that we saw her here for the last time. She was a Teacher of the Deaf for much of her life but never really retired as she kept up her work helping Deaf young people in Africa. To that end she was a founder of the Woodford Foundation in 2004 – http://www.woodfordfoundation.org.uk/doreen-woodford/

There is a brief appreciation of her here – http://www.deafchurch.co.uk/site2/all-news14/news-deaf-christian-mainmenu-65/297-doreen-woodford-rip

I hope there will be longer obituaries in the British Deaf Times etc in the coming weeks.

These are some of Doreen’s books, many published by the British Deaf History Society

Doreen E. Woodford, Who’s interpreting on Sunday morning? stories about deaf Exclusive Brethren. 2010

Doreen E. Woodford & Mary Plackett, A dynasty of magic. 2005     

Doreen E. Woodford, Opened and closed. 2005     

Doreen E. Woodford, Seventy-five remarkable years : a record of deaf people and the Girl Guide movement 1910-1985. 2005     

Doreen E. Woodford, Arthur Henry Bather, 1829-1892. 2002

Doreen E. Woodford, Touch, touch and touch again.  2000

Doreen Woodford,  Short Account of the History of a London School for the Deaf: Homerton, 1900-21 Companion Booklet to ” Early Photographs of a London School for the Deaf: Homerton, 1900-21″. 1998

Doreen Woodford, Early Photographs of a London School for the Deaf: Homerton, 1900-21. 1998

Doreen Woodford, A man and his school the story of the Llandaff School for the Deaf and Dumb.1996


It’s not just ears, but throats too

By Alex P Stagg, on 6 October 2011

From Adele, currently stuggling with voice problems (BBC story here), to the significantly less-well renumerated librarian occasionally dragged in front of rapt audiences to explain the arcane magic of finding information, using one’s voice safely and healthily is an important, but much overlooked part of everyday life.

In addition to hearing research, the UCL Ear Institute and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital undertake significant teaching, clinical and research work into voice disorders and vocal care, as part of UCL’s major interest in the fields of speech, voice and language.

Click here for  tips and information about looking after your voice from The British Voice Association.

Click here for simple advice on protecting both voice and hearing from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine

Click here to learn more about a whole range of voice disorders and their treatment on Medline Plus

Click here for an article from Patient Plus in the UK explaining hoarseness and voice problems.