Annual Report for AOHL
Welcome to our Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2016–17
Over 11 million people in the UK have hearing loss and one in 10 of us have tinnitus. This is a major health, economic and social issue that government, businesses and the general public simply cannot ignore.
This has been another year of successes and challenges. Government cuts to health and social care have threatened the availability of free hearing aids. This year, we successfully persuaded all three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who considered making cuts to continue to provide hearing aids to those who need them. In North Staffordshire, where cuts have been made, we’ve been working to show the CCG the impact this is having on people with hearing loss.
Last year, the John Townsend Trust in Kent went into administration. Its adult care and support services for people who are profoundly deaf with additional needs faced imminent closure. We purchased five properties and took over the running of these services, enabling vulnerable people to stay in their homes and continue to receive the support they need.
We provided high-quality, person-centred care and support services to more people who are deaf with additional needs than ever before.
In December 2016, we were proud to launch our Technology Initiative for Hearing Loss, with HRH The Duke of York in attendance. It aims to support the innovation, development and take-up of technology to help people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
Technology can be a vital lifeline, connecting people to services and entertainment, and in combating social isolation.
Our vision is to develop treatments to protect and restore hearing and silence tinnitus, and one day discover cures for those who want them. To bring us closer to that goal, in the past year we invested £1.7 million in biomedical research.
In February 2017, thanks to our brilliant campaigners and supporters, we changed the law on subtitling. The Digital Economy Act requires all broadcasters to provide minimum levels of subtitles for all on-demand services. This means that people with deafness and hearing loss will be able to watch television, however and wherever they want to, without being excluded.
We also launched our Working for Change campaign and published our report Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace. Its aims are to help employers feel confident about recruiting people with hearing loss, and to overcome common myths about hearing loss and employment.
It’s been a year of mixed success for our Commercial Services. We sold more than 88,000 products to people who are deaf, have tinnitus or hearing loss. We transformed our professional services for employers to provide improved solutions and training. Our communication support business remains financially challenging, but with more than 16,000 communication assignments coordinated, we continue to deliver huge social impact for British Sign Language users and those who need communication support.
The year ahead
While the external environment for charities remains a key challenge, we’ll keep striving to do more for people with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
As we move into the final year of our 2013–18 strategy, Taking Action, we’ll focus on extending our reach to more people in more communities. We’ll provide older people with vital information through our new Hear to Inform and Connect project and provide support to local organisations so their services are more accessible to people with hearing loss.
GPs are often a major barrier to people addressing their hearing loss. To understand why and find ways to change that, we will pilot a GP project on the Isle of Wight that aims to improve referral rates to audiology for people who suspect they have hearing loss.
We’ll run focus groups to understand further the needs of people who are deaf with multiple conditions and their experiences of the health and social care system. With this vital evidence, we can represent this vulnerable group of people effectively.
We’ll continue to fund biomedical research, to make the scientific discoveries that can lead to effective treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss. We’ll work with manufacturers and experts to develop new technologies and offer digital solutions to the people who face barriers in everyday life because of deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
We’ll also continue to campaign for equality – in the workplace, when accessing healthcare, when enjoying entertainment at home, or accessing culture through cinema and theatre, and in noisy cafes, bars and restaurants.
Of course, this all takes money. That’s why we will work harder than ever to raise funds, and to give people supporting our charity a rewarding and positive experience. Above all, we’ll use your generous donations to improve the lives of people with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
We want to say a very big ‘thank you’ to our staff, volunteers, members and supporters for everything you’ve done for people with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss. You are at the heart of our organisation, and we’re incredibly grateful for everything you do.
We, and the Board of Trustees, hope you continue to feel inspired by the work we do to take action and keep supporting our cause.