Welcome to HaLD

A group for professionals with a shared interest in improving hearing services for adults with learning disabilities

The Basics

In this section, we would like to share some basic information about hearing, Audiology and adults with learning disabilities. The information here is meant for guidance only, so should not replace the help you can receive from your local services.


  • Hearing is a complicated sense, involving both volume and pitch.
  • Just because someone responds to one sound, doesn’t necessarily mean they can hear all sounds.
  • The ear is made up of three parts (outer, middle and inner) and a problem with any one of these three parts can cause hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.
  • Wax occlusion is an example of a temporary cause of hearing loss.
  • Most permanent hearing loss is invisible, and cannot be diagnosed by looking in someone’s ear.
  • Hearing aids are an effective way of managing most permanent hearing loss.
  • Hearing aids are sophisticated, digital devices and are programmed to an individual’s hearing test.
  • Hearing loss is estimated to be present in approximately 40% of adults with learning disabilities but much of this is undiagnosed.
  • For certain groups, e.g. adults with Down’s syndrome, this percentage is much higher.
  • Adults with learning disabilities should have access to their local Audiology department for hearing test, via their GP.
  • Undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to poorer mental health and even behaviour that challenges.
  • There are a number of reasons why hearing loss isn’t being diagnosed in this population. Many reasons involve misinformation, attitudes and opinions.
  • Often the “symptoms” of hearing loss are masked by the person’s learning disability.
  • A common misconception is that adults with learning disabilities cannot have their hearing tested. This is not true. Anybody can have their hearing tested, regardless of their level of need.
  • Audiology services have a duty of care to provide reasonable adjustments to allow this.
  • Hearing can be tested in a person of any age. Hearing tests can even be performed whilst you are asleep!
  • Many adults with learning disabilities can wear and benefit from hearing aids.
  • As a group, we have countless examples of the life changing impact of hearing aid issue!

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