Information for healthcare professionals

This page outlines the impact of sensory loss, the differing types of audiology service models for people with learning disabilities and an overview of our project.

The impact of sensory loss

People with learning disabilities and autistic people have long been identified as priority groups for whom healthcare needs to improve, as highlighted in both the NHS Five Year Forward View (2014) and NHS Long Term Plan (2019).

Unaddressed sensory loss can have a major impact on mental health and quality of life, affecting the individual themselves and their families.  The communication challenges presented by hearing loss can make shared decision-making more difficult, which can prevent those affected from accessing other healthcare services.

Audiology services for people with learning disabilities

Currently there is a lack of consensus on the best audiology service structure for patients with learning disabilities and autism. While some clinics have a specialist hearing and cognition service, others see individuals with even the most profound cognitive needs in mainstream audiology clinics.

The needs of these populations are already becoming a higher priority within the audiology profession as is evident by the emergence of the British Society of Audiology Guidelines on working with individuals with intellectual disabilities.  As for other healthcare, reduced access to audiology services has been explored and documented.

Our approach

Our project aims to identify the challenges faced by audiologists who deliver hearing health care services to autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

The Audiology, Learning Disability and Autism project (ALDAP) explores access to and delivery of audiology services for individuals with learning disabilities and autistic people from the perspective of:

  • people with lived experience of learning disabilities and autism, their families and carers
  • audiology professionals
  • pertinent members of the multidisciplinary teams.

These perspectives will be gathered through a combination of focus groups, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.

We will explore:

  • the effectiveness of initiatives designed to improve audiology services;
  • the current use of the Accessible Information Standard and how this can be developed within Audiology services.

A library of resources will be gathered for audiology staff to access and use to improve these services. The resource library will be available on this website.