Horizon (1964) s09e15 Episode Script

The Curtain of Silence

1 Archive programmes chosen by experts.
For this collection, Prof Alice Roberts has selected a range of programmes to celebrate Horizon's 50th anniversary.
More Horizon programmes and other BBC Four Collections are available on BBC iPlayer.
Oh, yes, I can hear if anybody is knocking on the front door.
I go to the door, I watch their mouths move.
I cannot hear the birds sing.
Early morning, the sunrise and the birds, the larks, the thrushes, the jays, the finches, even.
All of that.
To wake up in the morning and see the sun shining and hear those birds, it must be a wonderful, wonderful thing.
THEY CHA 'If you're lucky, you can probably hear what everyone is saying.
'With too many voices, you're able to concentrate on one of them.
' .
Saying that it's not a good spot, because they're going to be limited for playground space.
'Some say the ability to hear human speech is our most precious gift.
'Equally important is the ability to pick it out from other sounds.
' right outside and they have their lunches all laid out and the lunch ladies come and 'But for the deaf, it's very different.
' SILENCE 'Nearly all of us are born with virtually perfect hearing.
' SHIP SIREN BLARES 'The baby easily hears the low frequency of a ship's siren.
'It also picks up the high-pitched 'squeaking of a bat at a very high frequency.
' 'But as we get older, our hearing ability begins to fall off, 'particularly with high frequencies.
' SHIP SOUNDS LESS AUDIBLE VOLUME INCREASES 'We can still hear the ship, but many of us can't hear a bat, 'however loud it squeaks.
' SQUEAKING 'To hear bats may not matter, but to hear speech does.
'In the whole range of sound - low frequency, top left, 'high, top right and loudest at the bottom - 'speech is bang in the middle.
'It's neither very high- nor low-frequency, nor very loud, 'but for normal life, it's vital to hear it.
'Normal adults have no difficulty, but if you're deaf, 'the curtain of silence cuts you off from speech.
' 'Degrees of deafness are plotted on audiograms.
'Old people often show some hearing at low frequencies on the left, 'but little at high ones on the right.
'This person could hear about half the range of human speech, 'but would miss any high notes.
' 'Audiograms chart the hearing in each ear separately, 'as it can vary considerably.
'This is what your audiogram should look like if you haven't had to turn 'up the volume on your set and your hearing's really good.
'You should hear everything from the quietest squeak 'to the most distant thunder.
'This is the chart of a deaf child.
Normal speech is way above his range.
'Here's another who can barely hear even the very loudest noises.
'Even with two hearing aids blasting in, 'such a child lives in a world of distant rumbles.
'They look normal, noisy, happy children.
Certainly they're happy, 'but none of them hear any of the noise they're making.
' Find a bowl.
Yes, you've to find a bowl first.
'In class, their lessons are at full volume in the hope that 'something gets through.
This is probably all they hear.
TEACHER IS BARELY AUDIBLE 'It's no ordinary lesson.
They are learning to lip read, to understand 'the meaning behind flickering lips.
'For without some form of language, there is 'little hope of gaining any of the knowledge we take for granted.
'To teach these children involves incredible patience.
'Only when the child can lip read or relate any faint sounds with speech, 'will it begin to understand the importance of language 'and attempt to reply in words it will never hear.
' 'Earphones help, for very few children are totally deaf.
' I had a green bowl.
And I put some 'If any sound at all gets through, it encourages the child to listen 'harder, often causing a slight improvement in hearing and 'when you're deaf, any improvement, however small, means a lot.
'We sympathise with such children, 'because we can see their hearing aids, 'but no young man wants to reveal he's deaf, he's disabled.
'We tend to sympathise with the disabilities we can see.
'The white stick becomes a cry for help 'when you see a blind person approaching heavy traffic.
' CAR HORNS TOO 'We give more than ten times as much to 'charities for the blind as for the deaf.
'But if this girl were deaf, 'she might be equally at risk from the fast car she hadn't heard, 'but no-one would have helped, no-one would have known.
' 'Even what are still probably the most neglected people among us, 'the old, get some help, some understanding.
'But if you're old and deaf, as millions are, you're very likely to 'be treated as either stupid or an annoying embarrassment.
'When did you last see this sign? Probably never.
'It could help us to help the deaf, 'but do you blame the deaf for only rarely branding themselves with it? 'For many, the badge of deafness is the hearing aid, 'yet, in some ways, their wearers are the lucky majority.
'They at least hear something.
Others are less fortunate.
'Sound enters our ear as a complex set of ripples in the air.
'It's channelled by the ear into a tiny living instrument 'of incredible sensitivity.
'At the end of the passage is the eardrum, which converts 'the vibrations of sound in the air into mechanical movement.
' 'Attached to the drum are three minute bones, the hammer, 'anvil and stirrup.
'There in the middle ear, the physical joints 'which relay to the brain 'both the squeak of a bat and the explosion of a bomb.
'If you hear these words, 'your middle ear is vibrating with similar activity, but if you can't, 'the bones may have become ossified and stilled to silence.
'This particular deafness can be cured.
'The operation involves great dexterity, 'working under the microscope.
'The cavity of the middle ear is penetrated to remove the stirrup.
' 'It's replaced by a tiny plastic piston.
'This operation has given thousands a new chance to hear, 'but that's only a fraction of those suffering other forms of deafness.
' 'It enables the vibrations of the middle ear 'to pass into the inner ear, 'a shell-like receiver, smaller than a pea, 'which captures every sound you will ever hear.
'The inner ear is like a spiral corridor 'edged with microscopic hairs, 'each of which somehow senses the frequency and volume of sound, 'resonates with it and relays it to the brain.
'The tragedy is, that though we know what the inner ear does, 'no-one is certain about precisely how it works.
'Until they are, no-one can repair any suspected faults inside it.
'For the time being, 'its tiny confines are beyond the reach of medical practice.
'For the deaf person who hasn't learned to speak, 'this is the easiest way of talking.
It's slow 'and few hearing people understand sign language.
' 'Even slower is spelling each word letter by letter.
'To spell this fast takes practice.
'At this speed, not even many experts can decipher what is being spelt, 'but compared with speech, it's pathetically slow.
' 'Many of these children are potentially very bright indeed.
'Their tragedy is that they have to spend much of the time 'when their minds are most receptive, learning speech 'which other children, however dim, take for granted.
'Such a delay is often a major educational handicap.
'It makes early detection of deafness essential.
'Adam's parents suspected something was wrong 'and their doctor referred them to this clinic in Manchester, 'where a precise measure of the degree of his deafness 'is to be taken.
' All right? Good.
- I think that's OK.
- There we are.
'A two-year-old can't tell you about what he can't hear, 'so special equipment is used to check 'if the mechanism of the middle ear 'is relaying sound vibrations properly.
'The graph of sound bounced back from the ear showed that the middle ear 'was working normally, so the problem lay with the inner ear.
'Unfortunately, many deaf children 'are not diagnosed before the age of two, 'the critical period for learning speech.
'As a result, they may be retarded 'and the longer the delay in finding them, 'the worse the handicap.
' That's fine.
That's it! That's a good boy! We'll put this one.
Here you are.
Let's put that one.
'The child is now exposed to various sounds, all of which have been 'previously checked to determine their exact frequency.
'The object is to see which he can hear 'and if both ears are working equally well.
' We've got that one.
It goes like that.
Let's try some sounds a wee bit louder now.
All right? HE CLAPS Bump.
There, like that.
That's right.
That's right.
TAPPING Very good.
'It's a very skilled job.
'The child's attention must be held all the time to be certain 'he's only distracted by the specific sound under study.
' CUP TAPS 'Few ordinary hospital outpatient departments have time or staff 'to give every child this kind of attention.
' What's this one? Make it go like this.
'Now, they try his response to speech.
' Baba.
Baba! BABA! 'His better ear has picked it up.
' - Once again.
To your right.
- Hello.
Hello! There we are.
'Now they try a pure tone device.
' THE DEVICE BEEPS BEEPS GET LOUDER 'Again, his better ear detects the sound first.
' There was the build-up.
That's right.
'All the time, his attention must be held.
' He's doing very well.
We'll make this one go, let's make this one go round.
Make it go round and round.
Still the left is dominant.
Hey, there we are! HE BLOWS Like that.
Make it go there.
HE TAPS THE XYLOPHONE 'Such testing takes hours of patient, skilled work.
'In Britain, it's a lottery whether you live near one of the few centres 'with either the equipment or the gifted staff to guarantee that 'a child's deafness is detected early.
'Too many children slip through the net.
' Still, the turn tends to be on the right.
'This family were lucky.
'They live near Manchester where they can bring their daughter Claire 'to one of the best hearing centres in the country.
'Claire 's deafness was detected quite early and although, at four, 'she's still too young for a special school, her parents 'can come to this clinic with her to learn to teach her lip-reading 'and even the rudiments of speech, 'for every second counts for the developing child.
'First, a routine check to confirm her degree of hearing loss.
'The test shows how loud various sound frequencies have to be 'before she hears them.
For Claire, it's a game.
'She put a ball on a stick when she hears something.
' Wait and listen.
Wait and listen.
I've got the boost on.
We'll start at 250.
Wait and listen.
We've got a threshold response there.
'Catching that threshold response was important.
'It marked the precise volume 'at which Claire just perceived the sound.
'In the future, that volume intensity will be tested again to see 'if it's got lower and if, therefore, her hearing is getting better.
That's right.
'This is what it's like now.
'A few years ago, she'd have been called deaf and dumb.
'Detected young, she'll have a good chance of speaking normally.
'Claire is now presented with objects, each verbally identified.
'The tester will then make sure that Claire can't hear him 'and check whether she's really begun to lip-read.
' What's that one? SHE RESPONDS Spoon.
That's right.
And that is a? SHE RESPONDS Brick.
What's that? Have a look.
And a? Glove.
- Mmmou - Mouse.
Now, then.
Now, then, look.
Let's get your finger.
You show me.
You show me.
Where is the fish? That's a good girl.
Where is the shoe? That's a good girl.
Where is the spoon? Good girl.
Show me the house.
That's right.
You listen.
You listen.
SHOUTS: Where's the house?! Where's the house?! NORMAL VOLUME: Where's the house? 'She's lip-reading.
' OK, listen.
SHOUTS: Where's the brick? Show me the brick! NORMAL VOLUME: Show me the brick.
Show me the brick.
'Lip-reading is vital.
'These parents are getting one of their first lessons in how to teach 'the skill to their 18-month-old daughter, Tracey.
'It demands very special techniques.
' No.
There's the man.
That's the man.
Now, I will roll the man to you.
I will roll him to you.
Hands ready.
Come on.
Let's get your hands ready.
That's right.
Hands ready.
There we are.
Now, then, I will roll the man to you.
Here he comes.
I will roll him.
There we are.
Now, there.
Those are his eyes.
Those are his eyes.
Now put him in your hand.
There, like that.
But I want to take them off.
Let's switch off.
That's it.
Now, let's take them off.
Take it off like that.
That's right.
And we sit on Mummy's knee.
Come on.
Sit on Mummy's knee.
Right, you take her on her knee, on your knee.
That's good.
That's fine.
Now, then It isn't automatic that a child or a person who has a hearing loss automatically lip-reads.
They've got to be helped.
They've got to be taught on this one, all right? Now, I did certain things while I was getting her to watch me.
For one thing, I held items close to my mouth.
They were there.
So that the item is seen and so is the pattern on the lips, and it's really not just the pattern on the lips, it's the whole expression.
So, I spoke about the man.
Here's the man.
I will roll the man to you.
And when I was doing this, I had it there, I didn't have it three inches away, that makes a difference.
If I move that item, even if looks a short distance, but move it away, and a child will follow the item.
That's the interest factor.
And so she's not watching your lips.
So I want it there.
I want it either there or there.
But not there.
Now this is the other danger you've got to watch.
When you're talking to her and saying, "Here's the man, "do you want the man, Tracey?" We are blocking the pattern.
No, I want it there or there.
I didn't do this.
Here's the man.
I'll roll the man to you.
Because if I had have done, I'd have lost something.
And I want to get in as much as I can in this situation.
That's a green bus.
Green like that.
Isn't it? What colour is that? Green.
It's green.
The Bury bus is a green bus.
'Claire's mother has already mastered such basic essentials 'and is now learning how to encourage Claire to reply 'while teaching her spatial concepts with toys and games.
' Yes.
CLAIRE IMPERSONATES A BUS Can you put it on the picture? Can you find the space for it? CLAIRE RESPONDS Oh, it doesn't fit in there! That's right.
Press it.
Press it down.
Make sure it's in properly.
Now, can we take this point up here? We've talked about the front wheel.
And we've talked about the back wheel.
Now let's take this a step further and talk about something in front of the bus, the car, and then for the next one, something behind the bus, all right? - Yes, I see, yes.
- At the back.
I know, we'll find something else.
In the bag.
Something that goes in front of the bus.
What do you think it is? - Ah! - You think it's the car? Do you think? - A lorry! - A lorry?! Oh, no, where's the lorry? That goes BEHIND the bus.
'Claire's lucky, she's now got a place 'at this special school in Southport, 'regarded by many experts as being 'one of the best of its type in the country.
'Several thousands are less fortunate, 'going to schools generally agreed as less well-equipped, 'less able to give the essential, individual tuition, without which, 'the deaf child will be unable to cope with the hearing world.
'These children desperately need all of the help we can give them.
'Too often, they don't get it.
'This little boy's audiogram shows he can barely hear anything at all, 'certainly no speech.
'Unlike Claire, he's had no help with speech until now 'and he's already five years old.
'The headphones relay speech at high volume, 'taking maximum advantage of whatever hearing he may have, however little.
' Let's have a look at your home book.
See if you can tell me what you were doing at the weekend.
You tell me about that.
Who's that? - Dog.
- Yes, whose dog is it? UNCLEAR Who was catching it? - The dog was catching it.
- (UNCLEAR) Dog.
The dog was catching the ball, yes.
- Ball.
- Yes, what colour was that? 'This book, the work of parents and child, 'tells what the child has been up to at home, 'a great help to a teacher making conversation.
' - Not a big one.
It was a small one.
- Small.
What colour was the ball? 'The child must be exposed to absolutely normal speech 'with natural rhythms.
'The over-emphasis we tend to use 'teaching hearing children to pronounce words 'just adds to a deaf child's difficulty.
' What's your dog's name? UNCLEAR Yes, he was catching the ball.
What's the dog's name? He's called Frenchy.
You say, "My dog's called Frenchy.
" UNCLEAR And you were playing with Frenchy.
UNCLEAR You say, "I was throwing the ball" 'Teaching the deaf can be most frustrating, 'for often, its benefits will only be seen years later by another teacher.
' UNCLEAR Those are fireworks.
Who is that? UNCLEAR Fireworks.
Let's have a look.
We're going to have a look at what we brought to school 'Individual tuition is the ideal, 'though much can be achieved with small groups.
'But here again, there are too few schools like this, 'too few classes sufficiently small and too few teachers 'either capable or unselfish enough 'to wait months for seemingly minimal results.
' Sit down.
That's a good boy.
You smell.
It makes a dust.
It's old paint.
It was stuck onto the brush.
I think your daddy didn't clean it properly.
Sean, you say, "It makes a dust.
" It makes dust.
Yes, it's a very dusty brush.
Your daddy didn't clean it properly, did he? My daddy (UNCLEAR) .
What's this one? What's this? It's a toothbrush.
A toothbrush.
What colour is it, Sarah? A red one.
Yes, it's a red toothbrush.
Sean? Are you looking? All right.
All right, just look at the toothbrushes.
UNCLEAR That's like a little toothbrush, isn't it? Yours is at home.
You say, "My toothbrush is at home.
" Yes, that's right.
Let him have yours.
Let's have yours.
That's right.
Now, let's have a look at the colours.
What colour is that one, Darren? UNCLEAR It's blue.
- What colour is this one? - Blue.
It's pale blue.
Pale blue.
What colour is this one? - Pink.
- Pink.
Yes, and that one is? - Red.
- Red.
It's your toothbrush, isn't it? It's a red one.
Carl 'Only when the teacher has improved their speech and lip-reading 'can she begin their wider education.
'It's laborious and critics say the children would be happier 'with sign language.
'But then, there'd be no chance of coming to terms 'with us, the hearing world.
' All right.
'These are some of the more senior pupils.
'They hear nothing, but by now can talk remarkably clearly, 'even in the presence of their headmaster.
' .
Arranged a football match.
It was Manchester who played Derby County.
I thought it was a good game.
They won 4-0.
I've never seen a game like that before, they all played well.
He was married in St Helen's.
Got married at three o'clock.
Married with Ann, who used to be here.
TEACHER: Ann McDermott, yes.
And, er There were 80 people in the reception in the afternoon.
- And 150 in the evening.
- 150? - What did you have in the evening? - A party, dance.
A party and dance? I see, and then what happened after that? - We went home.
- You went to? I went home 'It's difficult for us hearing people to begin to understand 'quite what an achievement for a deaf person speech is, however faltering.
' Yeah 'The deaf can't even tell if they are shouting or whispering.
'That too can be embarrassing.
' Outside St Helen's 'Ken Skarratt has been totally deaf from 18 months old.
'We asked him about those early days.
' I remember very distinctly my parents being very, very concerned about my deafness.
And they took me to several specialists.
I have vivid memories of this.
Because they kept probing into my ear and it was frightening, a very frightening experience at that time.
And of course I did eventually go to a normal school for children.
And I never got anywhere there at all.
And I did well, in fact I'm given to understand, pick up a certain amount of lip-reading ability, which proved very useful indeed to me.
And of course, later on, I was admitted to a special school for deaf children.
And it was then that I began to make real progress.
'Frequently, too little progress can be made 'by any child with such educational handicaps.
'The emphasis in the outside world is on paper qualifications, 'hard to come by for children whose main struggle is learning to speak.
'Often very able mentally, they regularly find themselves 'limited to jobs well below their abilities.
'In our loquacious society, the deaf are linguistic lepers.
'Rarely can we be bothered to make that little extra effort 'in talking to them, trying to understand them.
'We give them the jobs we don't want.
'Having struggled into our world of speech, 'their opportunities are very limited.
' I am concerned at the moment not only with the placement of deaf children in jobs which are, at that time, commensurate with their ability.
But I'm very concerned at the opportunities which are not given to the deaf.
The deaf can be given more opportunity to better themselves in the industrial field.
I feel this very strongly.
Because many of them are doing jobs which are far below their potential, when they can be doing something greater and more rewarding.
Not only to themselves financially, but to the rest of the deaf world.
MUSIC: Gudbuy T'Jane by Slade 'The cruel irony is that we hearing people live in a world 'we choose to make more and more deafening.
'This sound isn't too damaging in small doses, 'but many hours of it close to loudspeakers can ruin your hearing.
' # Goodbye to Jane Goodbye to Jane # Painted up like a fancy young man She's a queen 'Far too many discotheques amplify sound to danger levels, 'with few, if any, breaks between numbers for the ear to recover.
' INDUSTRIAL DIN 'And if you spend your whole working life in this din, 'your hearing is almost certain to be damaged.
' REPETITIVE BANGING 'The human ear can often recover from brief exposures to noise, 'but long-term exposure gives no time for recovery.
'Aircraft noise, traffic noise, even excess pop music, 'they are our latest pollution.
'But it's constant noise like this that really gets you.
'Not mentally, but physically.
' GRINDING 'In remote parts of Africa, where the loudest normal sound is birdsong, 'recent research has discovered some alarming facts.
' BIRDSONG 'It was found here that deterioration of hearing as people get older 'hardly occurs at all.
'Children's hearing was compared with that of the most senior citizens.
'They were both excellent.
'Although it's not yet possible to say lack of noise is the reason, 'the implications for us are obvious.
' # I say you're so young You're so young GRINDING BANGING 'Loud noises can perforate the eardrum, 'but that nearly always heals up, 'unlike the inner ear where prolonged noise louder than 90 decibels 'can cause permanent damage.
'The inner ear is minute, only a fifth of an inch across.
'It contains 30,000 hair clusters like this, 'seen under the electron microscope.
'Each cluster senses a specific frequency, 'and for perfect hearing every single fibre is important.
'Whole areas of these tiny receptors can be knocked out for ever 'by sustained excess volume or a quick series of shocks.
'This damage was caused by listening to rifle shots.
' RIFLE SHOTS BANGING 'In industry, there's a growing awareness of the dangers of noise.
'Unfortunately, sometimes even acoustically treating a machine 'doesn't get noise down to safe levels.
'Here, in an iron foundry, noise was above 100 decibels, 'certain to induce deafness if heard for any duration of time.
'Research shows some people are more prone to noise-induced deafness 'than others, but so far there's been no attempt to spot such people 'and give them quieter jobs.
'At this foundry, the management 'provided ear protection, both ear muffs 'and medically recommended fibre down to wear inside the ear.
'Wherever possible, they'd introduced sound dampers to cut noise levels.
'But this isn't the Army, 'and it's impossible to force people to take precautions.
'It'll be a long battle using every persuasion technique available, 'and today it's hardly begun.
' I know the noise is deafening, but you still want to hear things around you.
For safety reasons.
GRINDING I do know you should wear something, butI suppose I'm too idle really to do, you know.
Nobody else does it, so I suppose why should I do it? GRINDING The biggest danger, I think, is overhead cranes.
Accidents to eyes, fingers.
Er, normal accidents that happen at work where they could grind stuff and probably cut their fingers, their kneecaps.
I think noise, myself, comes very low on the list, as a danger point of view.
I don't know if noise has ever killed anybody yet.
I have recommended them to wear the fibreglass that's provided by the management.
MAN: I haven't seen anybody wearing them.
- Well, it's left to the men.
- Why don't you wear them? I've tried it and I find it irritates my ears.
The management seems to be worried.
And the Inspectorate, they seem to be worried, but I'm not.
'Management, unions and Inspectorate are concerned 'about men refusing the protection provided.
'Noise-induced deafness is, after all, a disability which is avoidable.
'But in one form of deafness, 'all hearing is swamped by noises like this, 'inside the sufferer's head.
'It's called tinnitus.
Luckily, it's very rare.
' THEY LAUGH They all seem to get some, except me.
I think they're taking the competition out of school 'The father of this family is Jack Ashley MP, 'whose crusade for thalidomide victims made headline news.
' Do you know what time Jane came home last night? - What time was it, Janey? - I was in by 11.
'Jack Ashley suffers from tinnitus.
This is all he hears.
' WHOOSHING 'He considers himself lucky.
He only went deaf five years ago.
'He wanted to resign, 'but his constituents persuaded him to carry on.
' WHOOSHING To me, it consists of a hissing noise, like the escaping of steam.
Or a roaring noise, like an express train.
Or a thundering noise, like thunder itself.
Sometimes, I can hear a cacophony of all kinds of these noises.
I think perhaps the worst of all is like a whine through my skull.
Which, at times, can be almost unbearable.
When this happens, when it is almost unbearable, the only thing I can do is to take a sedative and hope to sleep, or really throw myself into work in the hope of forgetting.
But of course sometimes that doesn't work and one really has to, as the doctor says, learn to live with it.
I can't hear my own voice at all.
It's one of the oddities of being totally deaf, that one is communicating to viewers, but I can't hear what I'm saying.
I'm only judging the level of my voice and the timbre and quality of my voice, I think by memory, and partly by the flickering of muscles.
And while I've been fighting to come to terms with deafness, the House of Commons, unostentatiously, has been coming to terms with me and helping me out.
You see, remarkably enough, the man who I find easiest of all and most helpful of all, is an arch political opponent, the Prime Minister.
Because I'm very critical with the Prime Minister.
I ask lots of very critical questions on a Tuesday and Thursday, that's part of my job, is to attack him.
And yet it's Ted Heath who, when I put these critical questions to him, turns to me and speaks clearly.
I think it's marvellous the way he does it.
PHONE RINGS 'Today, to be both executive and deaf is well nigh impossible.
'Even the simplest so-called aids become barriers.
'Mrs Grant holds down a high-powered job 'with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, 'but she can't even hear the telephone.
'She needs help.
' Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
Good morning.
Oh, yes, just a moment.
A gentleman inquiring about homes for deaf people.
How many people to each home? Well, it's about 30, although we do have a larger home for men only.
'Everything Mrs Grant wants to hear 'must be mouthed at her for her to lip-read.
' .
To go into the home.
I think you have to get in touch with the local welfare officer first, for a recommendation.
Send your application form to the Institute.
Then we will go into it with the local welfare office.
Or even our own welfare officer will go and visit the man or the woman who wants to come in.
'This could be an answer.
'Her phone and that of the person on the other end 'are each plugged into a television and a special typewriter.
'She sees the phone ring and switches on.
'She reads the message as it's written on her television.
'The total cost to the deaf subscriber 'would be little more than an average telephone rental.
'Without even having to speak, Mrs Grant can now reply.
'It's a new American device now being tried out for the British market.
'Mrs Grant was surprised, considering its seeming simplicity, 'why we hadn't come up with it ourselves.
'Until now, technology has mainly helped the deaf with hearing aids.
'But today, at last, other ideas are getting off the drawing board.
'These are finger vibrators, devised at Imperial College, 'to help the deaf actually sense 'through their fingers what sound feels like.
'The box damps the buzz of the vibrating pads.
'Through them, the deaf can sense 'different frequencies and volumes in each finger.
'The advantage is that both the hearing and the deaf 'can feel the words they speak.
' Start reading.
UNCLEAR 'The vibrators cause the buzz.
'Lydia's totally deaf, but here can feel the sound 'as she speaks or lip-reads.
With the word "human", you had difficulty.
You have to remember the I before the U.
- Human.
- Human.
- Right.
- Human.
- Human.
- Right.
So it's hiu-man.
Now, you should feel that on the finger.
If I exaggerate it a lot, you'll feel the "ee" slightly on that finger.
- Hu - Human.
Hoo-man is wrong.
Hiu-man is right.
- OK? Human.
- Human.
- Hu-man.
- Human.
Now try "human being".
Human being.
That's good.
Now try a little bit more attack.
- Being.
- Being.
- That's very good.
- Human being.
That's marvellous, excellent.
Very good.
'Other work at University College London concentrates on intonation, 'showing the deaf how they speak as they speak.
' WOMAN: Good morning.
How are you? 'The screen shows the natural rhythms and emphasis of speech.
' Good morning.
How are you? 'It helps the deaf copy the sounds as they lip-read.
Good morning.
How are you? You can see that the voice goes high in one place and then falls down quite quickly.
It starts to fall on the first bit of "morning".
And in the second phrase, it's basically the same pattern and it starts to fall on "are".
Now, I'd like you to put the electrodes on and we'll ask you to say it and see what yours looks like.
And if it doesn't look exactly the same as mine, then we'll work on it and try and make it look more like that and sound more natural.
All right? That's it.
Hold them fairly firmly.
- Errr.
- That's right.
Now, I'm going to start this and when you see the dot appearing in the left-hand corner, you can start.
Good morning, how are you? MAN: Good morning.
How are you? Try and put a bit of energy into "mor", that'll give us the right pitch change.
Good morning.
How are you? That's fine.
You can see now you've got something which is very much like my pattern, with a fall beginning on the right syllable and then falling.
And the speed is pretty much the same as mine, I think that's fine.
Could you do it once again to see if you can repeat it? Here we go.
MAN: Good morning.
How are you? WOMAN: Very good.
What we'll do now is to say the same pattern with different words.
So we'll go on after "good morning" and say something else.
We'll say, "I'm fine, thanks.
" "I'm fine, thanks.
" I'm fine, thank you.
That's the same pattern.
Would you like to try again? I'm fine, thank you.
OK, you can see that you didn't get much of a fall there.
Try again on "fine".
MAN: I'm fine, thank you.
That's coming on.
You try again.
'This new system is now being tried out with very young children.
'They can learn and remember even more easily.
' OK, that's fine.
'But for the majority of the deaf, the old and very old, 'it's a bit late to start learning new tricks.
'Most old people can still talk, but need a hearing aid.
'Some don't even get that.
'A consultant who has closely studied the problems of the old, Dr Fisch.
' I can recall an elderly lady I examined in one of these old people's homes when we investigated hearing, deafness in the elderly, and I was informed by some of the staff that she was confused, that really you can't talk to her, there's not much point to talk to her and so on.
Well, I ignored that and I placed a hearing aid in her ear and talked to her as one should, face-to-face, slowly.
Her eyes lit up and she heard me.
She understood everything what I said.
And I had an intelligent conversation with her.
She was a highly intelligent woman, about 78, a former teacher.
And I Probably I was the first person who talked to her in a way that she could understand after many, many months.
She was deaf, she wasn't confused, she was deaf.
But nobody knew how to talk to her.
And in fact, it wasn't recognised that what they called confusion and .
possibly not a very high intelligence was simply deafness.
'Not even counting those whose deafness hasn't been detected, 'there are over two million people 'with some degree of hearing disability in Britain today.
'Less than a third of them have been given free government hearing aids.
'They're worn on the chest and called Medrescos, 'after the Medical Research Council who designed them.
'If you're an adult and you want anything else, 'you've got to pay for it.
'You'll be faced with a very confusing variety of choices.
'And worse, an even more confusing variety of prices.
'Head of the technical department, 'Royal National Institute for the Deaf, Mr Martin.
' This collection of hearing aids represents about ã3,000 worth of aids.
And it's just a small portion of the tremendously wide range of aids that are currently available on the market.
These aids, in fact, vary from type to type.
And the type that is most widely used is probably the body-worn type.
But this is difficult to wear and very many people prefer the type that is worn on the head, such as these, which is worn behind the ear.
You've got spectacle aids here, where the aid is built into the arm of the spectacle.
And you can even have tiny little aids which fit right into the ear itself.
'But you won't get invisible 'head-worn aids on the National Health.
'What you'll get is the Medresco, designed over 20 years ago.
'It's clumsy and ugly, but fairly efficient, 'if you don't mind displaying your deafness.
'Long-awaited improvements are a story of crass bungling.
' The latest thing which appeared last year was in fact the OL 66.
They aid, which probably cost over ã100,000 to produce, in fact never got beyond the trial stage, and after criticisms, in fact was withdrawn.
So that, after 15 years, we have in fact not progressed very far.
'In Denmark, they took our National Health idea, 'but spend seven times more than us on the deaf.
'Their flourishing industry provides a truly comprehensive service, 'offering not only chest-worn hearing aids, 'but free head-worn aids for all who need them.
'In Britain, it's said we just can't afford to give away aids 'that often cost more than ã70 bought privately.
'But the actual components can cost under ã5 'and two companies have offered to service us with head-worn aids 'at about ã9 each.
'It doesn't seem too high a price to pay, 'but in Britain, the deaf always come last in priority.
' All other disabled people have the best possible facilities the government can give them.
But the deaf don't.
And I think it's quite wrong.
The government ought to provide ear-level hearing aids for all people.
Deafness is a Cinderella of all the disabilities.
But although it doesn't appear as a crippling disability, in fact, it is something which can ruin people's lives.
And what is needed is a reappraisal of the whole situation.
It needs an enormous injection of money and staff and ideas.
It isn't a political, a party political question, it's a question no government, Labour or Conservative, have helped the deaf as much as they ought to have done.
Practically every service that you look at for the deaf is run down.
And this is not just one opinion, this is an opinion that was even expressed by Sir George Godber, who is the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health.