Berkshire Sensory Consortium Service (BSCS) provide over 100 new radio aids this academic year so far!
Our sensory impaired children and young people use a range of additional assistive technology to support their access to learning which is provided by BSCS. This year during the COVID pandemic it has been a challenge to ensure they have had the right equipment at home which they normally use in school so they can continue to access lessons and develop the other skills which BSCS staff would normally be working on as part of their teaching or advisory support programme.
During the year BSCS staff have travelled all over Berkshire delivering and setting up equipment on people’s doorsteps, in the garden and providing advice and training online as part of our drive to ensure that every young person has the what they and their family have needed. It is therefore remarkable that our BSCS Educational Audiologist Lisa Bull and Teachers of the Deaf have been able to provide and set up over 100 new radio aids for pupils with hearing loss across Berkshire since last September! Here is Lisa and Julia during the first lockdown setting up a radio aid on a parent’s doorstep! This is an incredible achievement and amazing milestone. We normally issue around 70 radio aids every year to every pre-schooler or young person who would benefit from one. This year more of our young people have wanted to try one and have realised the benefits which will now support them going forward.
A Radio aid is an assistive listening device consisting of a transmitter, worn by a teacher, peer or parent, and a receiver(s), worn by the young person. It works by making the speakers voice clearer in relation to the unwanted background noise which masks out important parts of speech. It also overcomes the problem of distance from the speaker. We know that hearing aids and cochlear implants work most effectively over a distance of less than 2 metres and therefore social distancing has had a negative impact on understanding spoken language. Although modern hearing aids and cochlear implants allow most wearers to hear quiet speech in ideal listening situations, we know that busy classrooms, background noise at home and distance from the person speaking can make hearing clearly extremely difficult. This problem has been exacerbated by the use of face masks, listening via a computer where the sound quality is significantly impacted and social distancing of 2 metres has been required. Radio aids have been even more important than ever for those with a hearing loss. For many of our young people who have a hearing loss the impact of the challenges around listening at home or in their educational setting also impacted on mental health and young people told us they felt more isolated. Radio aid provision particularly in the circumstances has therefore been a lifeline for our young people with more young people keen to try one out. As a Service we manage a huge number of radio aids every year but the push to provide greater access for a wider group of young people has been a focus of support. Of course we continue to ensure teachers understand the impact of a hearing loss through advice and training and have been advising on the strategies which are helpful including the use of subtitles on line and ensuring everyone continues to use the equipment effectively while managing how to take account of the COVID restrictions and guidance.
For more information about BSCS and how we support CYP with hearing, vision or multisensory impairment visit our website http://www.berkshiresensoryconsortium.co.uk/