S.C. Fidler, J. Ashton

Univeristy of Manchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
Audiology attracts students from a variety of diverse cultural backgrounds. We wished to harness this diversity, in the hope of enriching students’ learning experience and use the students’ cultural expertise and knowledge to help access marginalised communities. Thus allowing students’ to open up discussions, to develop their awareness of how ethnic/ cultural diversity, impacts on the perception of hearing loss. Working with hearing impaired individuals from different cultural backgrounds, presents some unique challenges for audiology healthcare professionals. By allowing our students to explore these issues, they will be better equipped to help shape the future delivery of audiology services to meet the needs of a multicultural society.

We recruited students from both undergraduate and post graduate audiology programmes to develop and work on the project over the summer break (June 2016).
Following recruitment, we delivered 3 x 2 hour workshops to the students, to identify topic areas to open up discussions with community groups around hearing loss. We also worked with the students to develop their group facilitation skills.

Topic areas identified included the following:
Individual and community understanding of hearing loss
• Extent of hearing loss
• Treatment available
• Personal views
• Cultural views/ misconceptions
• “deaf” vs Deaf
• Issues around stigma and shame

Understanding of Audiology:
• What it is
• Services provided
• Meanings of language and jargon used

Services available to support with hearing loss
• Access and barriers
• Perceptions and misconceptions of services
• Experiences of services
• Cultural differences

Group storytelling for mental health and wellbeing
• Significance of women-only spaces to talk and feel listened to
• Challenges and barriers to accessing healthcare support
• Pride in own self, culture and skills
• Celebrating the value of being older and wiser and not of feeling useless or a burden.

As part of the project education packs were designed and created by students. These packs enabled us to create a “pop-up” exhibition in various community locations, identified by the students.

Locations included Pulling Together an Asian ladies group in Old Trafford, the Asian Ladies Community Group Rochdale and the Madina Mosque, Levenshulme .All groups are located in the Greater Manchester area of the UK.
The education packs comprised of data from previous projects, which provided insightful information about the complexities and challenges of living with hearing loss. The packs included images of historic and contemporary hearing aid technology. However, the packs only reflected the challenges faced by white British communities but they allowed students to initiate discussions with marginalised communities into how ethnic/cultural diversity impacts on the perception of hearing loss. Outputs from the project were interpreted into a visual format by a local artist and the work showcased in an Exhibition at the Inspire Café in Levenshulme.

This project has highlighted that Audiology services need to be culturally, as well as linguistically, competent when delivering services. Improved responsiveness to the health beliefs, practices, and cultural needs of patients who present with hearing loss is clearly required, in order to provide equitable access to audiology for diverse populations.