Feb 122017
 

I’m delighted to read on AMPHL’s website that a clear surgical face mask has received FDA approval and hit the markets there at last. There’ve been several streams of development that kept hitting road blocks, so there’s a big sigh of relief from deaf/HoH professionals in the US.

Welcome The Communicator from Safe’N’Clear!

I don’t know what this means for the UK though. I don’t know whether the UK accepts FDA approval as a proxy but am guessing there’s a whole process to go through here. So I don’t know when or even if they’re coming to the UK. But I’ve contacted the manufacturer so will let you know if I hear any good news.

Meanwhile, don’t forget there’s a safe DIY alternative.

Sep 172015
 

Anything ordered from overseas is checked at customs. If it costs over a specified threshold, you will usually need to pay duty and VAT.  At the time of writing, VAT applies to goods over £15 or £36 for gifts. And duty to goods over £135. There are some exceptions. If tax and duty are chargeable, the courier or Royal Mail or Parcel Force have to pay tax and duty and claim it back from you. So Royal Mail, Parcel Force or the courier will contact you. You will need to pay them these charges and an administration fee before they deliver the item. I’ve asked HMRC if there’s a way we can pay duty and VAT up-front so there isn’t a hold-up. Apparently not. Continue reading »

May 222015
 

If your low-frequency hearing is OK, you’ll be able to hear fine with a standard stethoscope. The problem comes if you have hearing aids: it’s not always convenient to take them right out every time you need the stethoscope. But if you have behind-the-ear aids with conventional earmoulds, you can flip the moulds out quickly, leaving the aids hooked over your ears.

Admitedly, they do sometimes make a bid for freedom, especially if you have spectacles competing for over-ear space. So at the start of your working day, try toupee tape or little stickies to stick the aids to your head or ear. Continue reading »

May 042015
 

I’ve known for a long time that if you’re buying equipment in the UK, that is for your sole use and needed due to a disability, you don’t have to pay VAT. Some suppliers of deafness-related equipment have a simple declaration readily available so VAT is deducted before you pay anything. (eg Connevans’ VAT information, Action On Hearing Loss shop information.)

I’ve just learned* there’s a similar set-up if you’re buying equipment overseas. Usually there’s duty to pay either via the carrier, or at customs if you’re bringing something in yourself. Someone in our email group has just passed on the news that you can make a similar declaration and won’t have to pay duty.

UPDATE: 23/9/2015

To qualify for exemption, HMRC states equipment must be “specially designed to give educational, employment or social help to people with physical or mental disabilities” (see HMRC ref below.) Their reply to my equiry states, “unfortunately, the VAT relief only covers equipment that is designed solely for the use by disabled people” which excludes most if not all electronic stethoscopes, “and also is to be used for your own private and domestic use – so this wouldn’t cover equipment that you use for work.” Which definitely excludes all stethoscopes as well as much other equipment.  If in doubt about a specific situation, I suggest checking with HMRC.

Continue reading »

Apr 222015
 

Richard Webb-Stevens is a motorcycle paramedic. Deaf since childhood, he’s persevered through knock-backs and come up with solutions to barriers. He actively promotes deaf awareness and access to emergency services and health care and is an advocate for access to healthcare for deaf/HoH people.

Richard began work with the London Ambulance Service (LAS) over sixteen years ago and has been a motorcycle paramedic for eight. He will shortly be starting a secondment with London’s Air Ambulance as a Flight Paramedic which is his career ambition. I first heard about Richard on the BBC See Hear programme featuring d/Deaf and HoH health professionals in January 2015. Continue reading »

Aug 182013
 

There’s no “one size fits all” solution, especially with stethoscopes. But that also goes for other equipment such as assisted listening devices that can be even more expensive. So do your best to agree a trial period with the supplier. This means you can get a full refund if you return the equipment in time,though delivery costs may not be included. Continue reading »

Aug 182013
 

“As well as giving advice and information to disabled people and employers, Access to Work pays a grant … towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability.”

We can get some help towards costs of special equipment, which can include electronic stethoscopes and aids to help us in meetings and with telephones and pagers, and support workers such as note-takers, lip-speakers and interpreters to sign, for example.

Access to Work may fund the full cost of equipment if you apply while out of work, are about to begin  a new job or if you apply within 6 weeks of starting a new job or are self-employed. In other situations, they only fund a proportion.

They will not fund in retrospect. You must apply and have an assessment before buying equipment or services.