Action on Hearing Loss

Royal National Institute for Deaf People
trading as Action on Hearing Loss
Formation 1911
Type NGO
Legal status Charity
Region served
United Kingdom
Paul Breckell

Action on Hearing Loss, known until 2011 by its official title, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), is a charitable organization working on behalf of the UK's 9 million people who are deaf or have hearing loss. The head office is in Islington, London. Its President until April 2012 was Lord Ashley of Stoke. The Chief Executive is Paul Breckell. Its Patron is the Duke of York.


The Royal National Institute for Deaf People was founded as the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf in 1911 by Leo Bonn, a deaf merchant banker, at his home 22 Upper Brook Street, Mayfair, on 9 June 1911. The house is marked by a memorial plaque unveiled by The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron to the RNID, on 9 June 1998.[1]

The Bureau was reorganised as the National Institute for the Deaf in 1924. Alongside its role in influencing public policy in favour of people who are hard of hearing in the UK, it also developed a role as a provider of care to deaf and hard of hearing people with additional needs during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

During the 1940s, with the introduction of the National Health Service (NHS) to the UK, it successfully campaigned for the provision of free hearing aids through the new welfare state system. The 1950s and 1960s saw its increasing influence marked by Royal recognition: in 1958 the Duke of Edinburgh became the Patron of the Institute; and in 1961 H.M. the Queen approved the addition of the "Royal" prefix, creating the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID).

The Institute expanded into medical and technological research during the 1960s and 1970s, being a key player in the development of NHS provided behind-the-ear hearing aids. During the 1980s it developed the Telephone Exchange for the Deaf, a pioneering relay service allowing telephone users and deaf "textphone" users to communicate with each other using a third-party operator to relay voice and text communication. This became the service known as Typetalk in 1991, funded by BT but operated on their behalf by RNID until 7 December 2009 when the RNID stepped down from the service. It is now solely owned, run and managed by BT alone. In March 2009 the name of the Typetalk service was changed to Text Relay.

In 1992 the Institute changed its name to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People but kept the initials RNID.

June 2011 saw Centenary Celebrations to celebrate 100 years of the RNID and a new change of name - Action on Hearing Loss. 'Action on Hearing Loss' was chosen because it better describes the breadth of help and support they provide for people with all types of hearing loss – from people who are profoundly deaf, to people who are losing their hearing.[2] They trade under the new name 'Action on Hearing Loss', but like a lot of other charities who have changed their names, they will be keeping the legal name, Royal National Institute for Deaf People.


Action on Hearing Loss' activities include:

Present operations

Action on Hearing Loss has achieved a high profile for its work in lobbying and working with the UK government on modernisation of the UK's audiology services. This has resulted in the introduction of superior digital hearing aids free of charge via the NHS.

Action on Hearing Loss has also emerged as a major player in technology research and development, in particular through its work in the area of product development. The Action on Hearing Loss Product Development team won an Innovation Award for their work on a new genre of telephone - the ScreenPhone.

Hearing check

Action on Hearing Loss have developed an online free, confidential online hearing check, and can identify potential hearing problems. The five-minute check assesses your ability to hear someone speaking when there is background noise. It can indicate whether your hearing is within the normal range or if it is perhaps below normal. The hearing check does not give a medical diagnosis, but Action on Hearing Loss hopes it will prompt people to take action and visit their GP or an audiologist for a fuller assessment. On average, it can take people living in the UK up to 15 years to deal with a hearing loss.


External links

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