PUBLIC SECT0R: PR push to change deaf's self-perception

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf is to launch a major PR

push in a bid to alter deaf people's self-perception.



The campaign, now in the planning stage, will involve all communications

teams, including public affairs, media relations and campaigns, in a bid

to increase the use of digital hearing aids.



The move coincides with an expected nationwide rollout of a pilot scheme

to offer those with hearing-loss the new equipment for free.



Monique Warnock, deputy head of media relations, said: 'There is a

stigma within the deaf community in having a hearing aid. Some don't

want to wear one. A reason often is that people don't want to admit they

have hearing loss.'



'It's early stages but we aim to remove that stigma. This campaign will

be a major piece of work for us,' she added.



A starting date for the campaign has yet to be finalised as the charity

is still lobbying the Government to make the new equipment available

free throughout the UK.



Last year, following a lobbying push from the RNID, the Government put

in place a pilot scheme providing free digital aids in 20 NHS

trusts.



Most of those using hearing aids are using 30-year-old analogue

equipment. Digital aids cost around £2,500 from private healthcare

firms.



Warnock said: 'Digital aids change lives. At the moment it's a postcode

lottery on whether you can get one.'



This latest PR push, to be headed by RNID head of communications Brian

Lamb, has been unveiled in the RNID's first Impact Report, released this

month.



Other campaigns being planned include one to lobby the Government to

introduce better monitoring of schooling for the deaf and further PA

work to ensure a commitment to subtitling in the proposed Communications

Act.



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