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Deaf Persons

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1977

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38.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will improve Government facilities for the deaf.

My aim is to provide as comprehensive a range of services for hearing-impaired people as possible within the limits of available resources. A number of measures designed to meet their needs, notably the introduction of the behind-the-ear hearing aid programme, have already been taken and others will be put into effect as soon as practicable. I am consulting widely on a number of important recommendations made by my Advisory Committee on Services for Hearing-Impaired people; and I am at present considering its latest report on provision by social services departments. Special funds to assist health authorities to improve local services have been allocated. We are also making available central funds to promote the training of hearing therapists to enable them to teach new communication skills.

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what multidisciplinary assessment, treatment and rehabilitation facilities for the deaf are available in the National Health Service.

Facilities are provided in hospital ENT departments, hearing aid centres and audiology clinics. In addition the screening of children is carried out at home, in community clinics and at school at key ages. Children suspected of having problems of speech or hearing can be referred to a comprehensive assessment centre, of which there are now about 90, for more elaborate multi-disciplinary investigation. Rehabilitation, following the issue of a hearing aid, is not as widely available as I should like; and I am awaiting comments on proposals for improving this and other aspects of the service, arising out of recent recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Services for Hearing-Impaired People.