More than 100 children with hearing loss have been provided with radio aids this past academic year to help support their learning thanks to the Berkshire Sensory Consortium Service.
Its educational audiologist Lisa Bull and teacher of the deaf Julia Battle have been providing and setting up the devices for pupils, which have proved extra popular as a result of social distancing and home-learning during the pandemic.
The Berkshire-wide service is hosted by Achieving for Children, on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead.
A radio aid is a 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 speaker’s voice clearer and overcomes the problem of distance from the speaker.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for adult social care, children’s services, health and mental health, said: “This is a wonderful achievement enabling children with sensory impairments to have the technology they need to access lessons while learning from home and, importantly, fully participate in their educational experience.
“I’d like to thank the service and its staff for their efforts in making this possible. They have gone above and beyond in ensuring young people with additional needs are supported and feel included in their school day against the very challenging backdrop of the pandemic.”
Hearing aids and cochlear implants work most effectively over a distance of less than two metres. Social distancing, the use of face masks as well as listening via a computer where the sound quality is significantly impacted can make hearing clearly extremely difficult.
Jane Peters, Head of Service at the Berkshire Sensory Consortium Service, said the radio aids had been a ‘lifeline’ for young people, with many more now keen to try one out.
She said: “Our sensory impaired children and young people use a range of additional assistive technology to support their access to learning which is provided by us.
“Our 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 support they and their family have needed. I’d like to thank Lisa and Julia for their remarkable efforts in making this possible.
“It is an incredible achievement and an 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.”
For more information about the service and how it supports children and young people with hearing, vision or multi-sensory impairment, please visit: http://www.berkshiresensoryconsortium.co.uk/