On Thursday 24th September 2019, I attended the Living Options Conference on Hearing Loss and how we support with Influencing Future Services in Devon.

During the day we were very lucky to have lectures from a range of keynote speakers about the effects of hearing loss and the types of services that are available in Devon.

One of the first speakers of the day was Jackie Ashley, the writer and daughter of Lord Ashley CH of Stoke who was the first MP to be deaf serving in the House of Commons. After suffering complications in surgery, he ended up with complete hearing loss and had to learn how to deal with a complete change in his life including how to communicate with his family and complete his role as an MP. Over his career he was known too continually lobby for the rights of people with disabilities. It was very interesting to learn about the effects of hearing loss on both the individual and the family.

The second speaker was Dr Jenna Littlejohn, who spoke about her research on the links between Dementia and hearing loss. Even though there is no actual scientific evidence proving hearing loss causes Dementia, there does seem to be a link between the two.

After this talk, Simon Chant from Public Health at Devon County Council and Johnathan Parsons a Consultant Clinical Scientist and Managing Director at Chime Social Enterprise talked about the context and prevalence of hearing loss in Devon and the Hearing Loss in the Digital Age.

One of the main outcomes from the day was the information and links with other organisations who will be able to support our participants who need help with accessibility technology.

The See Hear Centre in Barnstaple is an equipment information and support service in Barnstaple for people with sensory loss. The Centre provides the chance to see equipment demonstrations, try before you buy and provide computer and mobile phone training. The centre is open on Tuesdays between 9am and 5pm. There are also other similar services in other areas of Devon which will allow us to show the equipment before it is purchased.

The day was very enlightening and enjoyable. I look forward to continuing to make connections with the other organisations and improve the provisions for our participants.