Dumfries and Galloway Hard of Hearing Group is teaming up with the council’s youth work service to reach out to a range of ages with varied degrees of deafness.
The first phase of the initiative is a confidential online survey that aims to measure the impact of the pandemic, with a particular focus on how young people with hearing loss have found communicating with people wearing face masks, which restrict lip-reading abilities.
This will be followed by further discussion looking at what more can be done to support young people with hearing loss.
Funded by the NHS Endowment Trust and the 10,000 Voices Fund, findings from the study will be published next year.
Ann Ferguson, chair of the Hard of Hearing Group, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the widespread requirement to wear face masks, particularly in schools, exacerbates the isolation many young people with hearing loss will be experiencing.
“Face masks make lip reading impossible and most young people with hearing loss, even if they have hearing aids or cochlear implants rely on varying degree of lip reading to hear.”
Dumfries and Galloway Hard of Hearing Group trustee Jenny Wells, who meets the study’s criteria as a young person with hearing loss, said that youngsters like her are “in normal times, often victims of bulling and ridicule which impacts on self-confidence and self-esteem.”
She added: “Hearing loss, as a disability, is poorly understood and without the ability to communicate well those with hearing loss can feel excluded.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of young people with hearing loss experiencing mental health issues which is not unexpected given the additional challenges they face.”
Details of the survey can be found at www.dghhg.org.uk/hear-me-out/.