June 2019 Newshub
Frustrated, angry and driven to tears - that is how deaf clients feel when they're left unable to communicate with social services. Newshub Nation has learned Work and Income (WINZ) routinely phone clients they know have hearing loss and can't use phones. As a result, one person was removed from a crucial waiting list by the Ministry of Social Development while others have received the wrong benefits.
Advocates for the deaf community say the situation is unacceptable, and Government agencies need to get their act together as the number of people with hearing loss in the future is expected to soar. Natasha Gallardo, chief executive of the National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, says hearing loss among young people is spiking.
"We started screening year 9 students at two high schools in Auckland as a starting point and we've started to uncover alarming rates of hearing loss within young kids. At one particular school, we have seen levels up to 30 percent of the kids we screened [being] referred on to further investigation."
Gallardo says one of the causes driving the hearing loss is the increased use of headphones with personal devices.