Unheard Voices

During 2008 and 2009, over 65 people recorded oral history interviews about their experience of Acquired Profound Hearing Loss (APHL).

Over 150,000 people in the UK live with the effects of APHL. After growing up with hearing and developing speech and language, adults with APHL became profoundly or totally deaf in adult life, either suddenly and without warning or progressively over a number of weeks, months or years. For most people APHL is a catastrophic, alienating and disorientating life event. APHL places considerable strain not only on the person with the hearing loss, but on all those living with the deafened person.

The Heritage Lottery Fund provided funding for Hearing Link (formerly Hearing Concern LINK) to train volunteers to become interviewers of adults with APHL. Working closely with the Oral History department in the Sound Archive at the British Library, Hearing Link identified and trained 16 deafened adults to interview over 65 deafened adults about life history topics including family background, early life, hearing loss diagnosis, relationships with medical professionals and the effect of hearing loss on employment, family relationships, education, access and awareness.

Interviews took place at central locations around the UK and provided often isolated people with the opportunity to meet others with shared experiences and challenges. Interviews of on average 90 minutes were recorded on digital recorders and the resulting audio files (and verbatim transcripts from the Speech To Text Reporters) have been archived and made publicly accessible at the British Library. To access the recording and transcripts online visit the British Library Sounds website (click on Subject>Hearing Loss>and select a name. Scroll to the bottom of the page to access the transcript of each individual audio recording).

A selection of written/audio with transcripts
“I was born with full hearing. I’m 31 now, and I started to lose my hearing when I was about 21. I have no hearing at all now and that’s been since about 2005.”

“I met my wife Jayne when she could still hear (she had a hearing aid). Then in 2000 she had an operation on the one ear. About three months after that her hearing completely disappeared from both ears. We never really knew why.”

“After two years working as a bank clerk I realised my ambition to become a nurse at Guy’s Hospital. During my training I contracted TB and meningitis and I was ill for three years. At the end of that time I had no hearing.”

“I was sitting in our house with my youngest boy (he was three at the time), and I got up to walk across the room to adjust the TV. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor and the room was spinning round and I was really very, very ill and sick.”

Visit the the British Library Sounds website to access audio recordings of all interviews. Click on Subject>Hearing Loss>and select a name. Scroll to the bottom of the page to access the transcript of each individual audio recording.


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