VIDEO: Collaboration gives a voice to those with hearing loss

An insightful new video which is raising awareness about the impacts of mild hearing loss has been produced after a joint effort between two departments at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).



Mild hearing loss is surprisingly under-represented in the audiology sphere despite the fact it has a big influence on millions of people’s lives in the UK every day.

The Audiology and Drama Studies courses, within the Health and Life Sciences and Art, Design and Humanities faculties respectively, came up with the ‘Being Heard’ video project to spread the word about the issue and succeeded in applying to the university for a Research Investment Fund grant for £3,000.

In their 16-minute video, the experiences of people with mild hearing loss are presented and performed by actors. They speak poignantly, frankly and sometimes amusingly about how it has affected family, work, relationships and social life and how the first signs of hearing loss manifested themselves.

The interviewees, who included DMU students as well as those from the wider community in Leicester thanks to the support of the Leicester Ageing Together charity, also talk about their reaction to hearing aids and the everyday strategies they adopt to cope.

The ’Being Heard’ video has now been uploaded to DMU’s YouTube channel and can be viewed by clicking here.

Being Heard video screenshot 2

Four Audiology students carried out hearing tests to make sure the interviewees fell within the agreed band for mild hearing loss – defined as people whose hearing threshold is between 20 and 40 decibels where better than 20 is a normal hearing level.

A team of 26 drama students then took on the task of becoming assistant researchers to brush up on their interviewing techniques – a useful accompaniment for their drama in the community module.

The audio recordings were than transcribed word-for-word and put into a script for the actors to perform.

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Sara Coulson, Senior Lecturer in Audiology, said: “The project is all about giving a voice to people who have mild hearing loss. There’s a lot of material out there about being profoundly deaf, having very severe hearing loss or having a cochlear implant but there isn’t much explaining the experiences of those whose hearing begins to deteriorate and the impact it has on their everyday lives.

“We asked a series of questions that looked at different aspects of their life – so looking at how the hearing loss started and then how it’s impacted on their relationships, work, social life and feeling of wellbeing.

“We collected all that data together and then looked for common themes. It gave us some fascinating insights into how people cope, how they manage and how they side-stepped issues in order to get on with their lives.”

Kate Chapman, lecturer in Drama at DMU, said: “We put a call out for contributors and we wanted to get as many people of different ages, different experiences and different backgrounds as possible.

“For the interviews we involved some of our drama students who are learning how to be researchers. We created a verbatim script, making some editorial choices about what we might include or leave out, but not dramatizing the material. Instead of creating a play that was based on the material, we wanted to use the material itself that the actors would then present as it was told to us.

“For me, verbatim performance is a powerful way to tell these stories, word for word from the real experiences of people.”

The experiences of the 13 interviewees were portrayed in the video by four actors from the wider community – Alison Belbin, Sean McKenzie, Bhawna Bhansar and Jim Findley – and DMU drama student Calum Harris.

The full list of students who worked on the project was as follows: Calum Harris, Abdul Ali, Shivani Parmar, Irfan Makda, Farahan Ali, Nathan Beardsmore, Rhiannon Brookes-Carr, Niamh Christopher, Aundre Goddard, Rebecca Chilton, Rebecca Pickett, Ciara Wynne, Sophie Corner, Daniel Hughes, Abbie Hale, Rebecca Von Ohlen, Reece Stafferton, Eugene Kilgallon, Aneisha Vincitoire, Jack Meldrum, Dominique Palmer, Danielle Rowley, Abigail Cooper, Sharanpreet Dillon, Lakhwinder Bange, Sally Hossack (filmmaker).

Annette Day, a Project Co-ordinator from the Action on Hearing Loss charity, also helped out as an advisor during the production. The largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK, it campaigns for a fairer world for people with hearing loss and funds research to find a cure.

Senior Lecturer Sara is now exploring how best to spread the video as far and wide as possible. She is arranging meetings with county GPs and hospital trusts to see if their surgeries might screen clips of the footage on their waiting-room televisions.  She is also working with Annette from Action on Hearing Loss to play excerpts of the video on the charity’s website, thus giving the video some national exposure.

Posted on: Wednesday 04 October 2017

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