Monday, October 26, 2009

Charity offers new boost for deaf people

Source Link - Charity offers new boost for deaf people

A national charity aimed at improving the livelihoods of deaf people is to open a second branch in Suffolk, it emerged today.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains pooches to respond to specific sounds, enabling them to alert their deaf owners of danger or other noises.

The charity, which relies on donations, is launching its Ipswich branch with an open evening on November 3.

In the UK, nearly nine million people experience some degree of hearing loss - many of whom could benefit from a hearing dog.

A deaf owner is informed of noises by touch, with the dog using a paw to gain attention and then leading them back to the source of the sound.

If a fire alarm or smoke detector sounds, a hearing dog will lay down as an indication of danger.

Lara Mayhew, of Ipswich, was given a hearing dog in 2006 and believes that cross-terrier Jack's arrival, her confidence grew drastically.

She said: “My partner works shifts and Jack gives me the confidence to be in the house on my own because if there was a fire he would let me know, or if the doorbell rings Jack will tell me.

“Jack is my ears now and I wouldn't go anywhere without him. He's even been to weddings and worn a dickie bow!”

The open evening will give those seeking a hearing dog the chance to apply and find out more about the process - Lara and Jack will also be there giving visitors the opportunity to meet a trained hearing dog.

Currently the waiting period is at least two years - there are 11 people in Ipswich currently on the list.

Gill Yeates, regional fundraiser for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, said: “The charity can help to change so many people's lives.

“The dogs are trained from when they are puppies and live with volunteer families for up to six months.

“We train up to 150 dogs per year and all are trained to meet the needs of each recipient.”

The open evening for the Ipswich Branch of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is set to take place at Ipswich Library from 7pm.

For more information on hearing dogs or to donate, visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk or contact Gill Yeates on 01353 665396.

Are you a deaf person who benefits from the help of a hearing dog? Tell us your story - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Case Study:

Lara Mayhew, who suffers from profound deafness, was first drawn to the idea of a hearing dog when she was left alone in the changing room of a clothing shop, unaware that the fire alarm had gone off.

She applied for a dog after attending a fundraising event in Aldeburgh.

In 2006, Lara received a letter informing her that her hearing dog was now fully trained and ready to meet her.

Jack had been trained to meet all of Lara's needs so that he could work within her work environment as well as at home.

She said: “It has given me so much confidence since getting Jack three years ago, especially to be alone in the house.

“I tend not to burn the cooking now as all I have to do is put the cooker alarm on and Jack is there to tell me it's ready.

“Now, all my partner has to do is call Jack to get me instead of chasing around the house or garden to find me.”