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Social services

Photo: Girl with vibrating alarm clock

There are a wide variety of products and technologies available which could help you in all aspects of your everyday life - so be sure to ask your local social care service if they will provide these.

Typically you could expect them to provide products such as a vibrating alarm clock, doorchime, personal alerting system, smoke alarm system, a TV listener or loop system, a personal listener, an amplified telephone or a textphone. You can borrow these products from our Technology Test Drive loan service to see what is right for you. 

Here we tell you what your rights are, how to request products from social care services and what to do if you are not happy with what they can provide for you. 

Your rights

Under current laws, deaf children and young people have a legal right to have their need for equipment assessed by a social worker. If you or your deaf child are assessed as needing certain pieces of equipment, the social services department in your local authority should consider providing them for you free of charge.

Social care services must do all they can to make sure deaf children and young people have the same experiences as anyone else of a similar age. As part of this they should have access to technology that allows them to be fully independent in their home and join in all aspects of home and family life. In particular, social services should provide equipment if a deaf person would be put at risk, or their quality of life would be greatly reduced, without it (for example, a personal alerting or smoke alarm system).

Community care laws also reinforce social services’ responsibility to provide equipment for deaf young people in their home. Relevant laws include the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (1970), the NHS and Community Care Act (1990), and the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act (1986). These back up your right to have an assessment of the specialist products and technologies which you need and that would help you in your everyday life.

How to request products from social care services

If you live in England or Wales, contact your local social care services department. In Scotland, contact your local social work department. In Northern Ireland, contact your local health and social services trust. You will find their phone number online or you can contact our freephone helpline to get their contact details.

Social care services should have a team or worker whose role involves assessing and providing products for deaf children and adults. You should ask them to visit you to discuss what products might be helpful and which could be provided.

Before you contact social care services, it might be helpful to have an idea of what equipment you think would be helpful. Have a look at our webpages to find out more about the wide range of beneficial technologies. We have also produced a guide called How technology can help, which shows how products and technology could help you at home, at school or when socialising with friends.

When you meet with social care services you will need to explain why you feel you need, or should have, specific pieces of equipment. If you present your case clearly and give obvious examples of when the equipment would help you, you will increase your chances of getting it from them. Bear in mind that although social services have to assess you, you must also meet their criteria (rules) for support. Further information on this can be found in our Know your rights: Getting support from your local council in England/Wales/Scotland/Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland factsheets.

What to do if you are not happy with what social care services can provide

If social care services refuse to provide equipment that you think you need, you should ask them to put their reasons in writing and then contact our freephone helpline for advice on what to do next. Our Know your rights factsheets give you details of how you can complain.

Under the Children Act 1989 in England, Social Services Well-Being Wales Act 2014, the Children Act 1995 in Scotland, and the Children Order 1995 in Northern Ireland, social services must work with families to meet the needs of deaf children and young people.

This means that local authorities must have a public complaints procedure and provide details on how to use it, and give information on how to get independent advice. You or your parents also have a legal right to help with preparing statements and reports for relevant assessments and meetings with different agencies.