Anthony Brown, who works on ITV’s This Morning, the TV production's runner has experienced what it’s like to be deaf in a 24-hour experiment that left him feeling lost and vulnerable.
Anthony had a special gel inserted into his ears as part of an experiment on the programme to raise awareness of the rise of deafness in the UK, and to highlight just how helpful hearing dogs can be for deaf people.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is a national charity that trains dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds such as the doorbell, telephone and smoke alarm – providing life-changing independence and confidence to deaf people across the UK.
Anthony, who had the gel inserted by a Specsavers Hearing Centres audiologist, said during the show: ‘I feel so lost. It’s a very lonely, frustrating feeling. Just getting home today, you’ve got to be doubly alert.
‘You feel very distant from everyone and the experience definitely taught me a lot about how much you take in subconsciously when you’re just looking around – you really do feel so vulnerable.’
Hearing Dogs keep their owners safe
Anthony took part in the experiment to raise awareness of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity which trains hearing dogs to alert deaf people to everyday important sounds and danger signals. He was accompanied on the show by Lisa Downer, who has been almost completely deaf for six years, and Kelly, her hearing dog.
Talking about how Kelly helps Lisa in day-to-day life, Lisa said: ‘She wakes me up to my alarm by putting her nose gently into my neck. If there’s no response I get one paw, then two, and if there’s still no response she gets on top of me.
‘The really important side of it is that Kelly keeps me safe. If the smoke detector went off at night I would hear nothing, but she would come and alert me.’
Importance of regular hearing checks
Today, an estimated one in six adults in the UK suffers from hearing loss. Mark Edgar, the audiologist who fitted Anthony’s gel inserts, said: ‘The gel inserts that were fitted into Anthony’s ears only create a mild to moderate hearing loss, but because of the sudden onset it can be quite disorientating.
‘Hearing loss is such a common problem, yet it still seems to be a taboo. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People does such incredible work and it’s important to recognise just how much impact these highly-trained dogs have on their owners’ lives.
‘For those more fortunate, it’s important to have your hearing checked regularly. Anyone over the age of 55 should have their hearing checked once a year.’