DMU's Free Hearing Screenings project shortlisted for prestigious Guardian University award

A project led by Audiology students that has helped more than 100 people to hear properly again has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Free Hearing Screenings initiative, designed by Wendy Stevens and fellow Audiology academics at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), is on the shortlist of the Teaching Excellence category in the Guardian University Awards, announced today.

The awards recognise the best work being done by UK universities.

Guardian Logo 2016 main

The scheme works with charities and healthcare providers to give students the practical experience needed to become qualified audiologists, while offering the community support and advice for hearing problems. The sessions are delivered with professional audiologists from Action Deafness.

Sixty students have gained experience to date, while 127 people have had long-term hearing conditions resolved since the project - described as "unique and innovative" by the British Academy of Audiology - was introduced in 2014.

The scheme is delivered by the DMU Square Mile programme, which shares the skills of students, staff and academics to benefit the community, and utilises free space in pharmacies, community centres and empty shops to create 'pop-up' clinics. Under the supervision of Mrs Stevens, Clinical Learning Co-ordinator and Senior Lecturer in Audiology, students conduct free hearing tests for people who want checks or have been encouraged to do so by their pharmacy or GP.

If an individual is found to show some form of hearing loss, they are booked in for a further appointment in the Audiology testing labs on DMU campus.

These include Akhil Maroju, who was getting into trouble at school because teachers thought he was ignoring their questions. Unbeknown to them, the six-year-old was suffering from glue ear, a build-up of fluid in the ear.

DMU-Guardian award-main

His hearing problems were spotted when his mother, Kash Patel, took him to a DMU pop-up clinic. Further tests by Action Deafness diagnosed the condition.

She said: "I knew there was something wrong but when the doctor checked there was nothing they could find. The students did a wonderful job, we are so grateful."

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Students are also reaping the benefits of these accessible clinical placements.

Third year Audiology student Nabeela Begum said: "I know of students in previous years that have travelled as far as Cambridge, so I feel lucky to be able to do a placement locally.

"One of the best parts is learning how to develop a good rapport with your patients - it's such a difficult skill set to master, but now I have a much better understanding of how to communicate with patients."

Mark Charlton, Head of Public Engagement, is delighted the scheme has been shortlisted.

He said: "It is a great project that has a real impact on the community and at the same time gives students a valuable learning experience.

"It also demonstrates the university's commitment to the public good and teaching excellence."

Mrs Stevens said: "I am overwhelmed and honoured by the fact that I have been nominated. The Free Hearing Screenings project gives me the opportunity to give something back to the community and, just as important, it enhances the student experience.

"This project is unique to this university. It is also a team effort and I can only express that this belongs to my colleagues, community partners, students and the Square Mile team."

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 16 March.

Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2016

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