Hearing Dogs gets the Doctor Who treatment. Batteries not included…

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With the celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who and a new series around the corner, Mark Walden investigates the advances of technology and whether assistance dogs will eventually be replaced our very own K-9 robots…

The Day of the Doctor is approaching! Equipped with his trusty sonic screwdriver, time shifting Tardis and of course his loyal assistant robot dog K-9 Doctor Who is returning to our screens.

K-9 is Doctor Who’s robotic companion but with today’s technology not so far dr_who_k9away from that of his first incarnation in 1963 it makes you wonder, could robots ever replace real hearing dogs for the deaf? Hearing Dogs for Deaf People was formed back in 1982, far before the widespread use of personal computers, smart-phones and the world wide web. Will that ever change in the future?

At first glance it almost seems perfect. Low cost, minimal maintenance and no training involved – and the technology is actually out there. What’s not to like?

We’ve put together this info-graphic to test the theory and see how K-9 would fare in completing some of a hearing dogs everyday tasks…

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OK, so perhaps our study is a little biased but one thing is for certain, in each case hearing dogs provide their owners with the one thing that robots can never provide; companionship, emotional support and a link to the hearing world.Hearing dogs are trained to detect alarms and, unlike a robot, capable of learning and adapting to their owners lifestyle. They have a sense self awareness and judgement that goes the extra mile and naturally thrive on making us happy.They can potentially allow some of the nearly 10 million adults and children in the UK with hearing loss to live independently or go to school and interact with other people.K-9 on the other hand is capable of playing chess, flying, talking and occasionally saving the world from time to time. They are of course good qualities in any dog you come across but he lacks the emotion, empathy and body language that could speak a thousand words to a deaf person. Maybe he should stick to saving the world and travelling through time and leave hearing dogs to the professionals.There is one thing in common between robot and assistance dog though and that’s the extremely high costs that are involved to make them. It’s estimated to cost the Charity on average of £45,000 per assistance dog. The Charity receives no government funding and rely 100% on your donations and support to keep going.So next time you watch Doctor Who, pause for a minute and think that you don’t always need to traverse worlds to help others in need, you can help a deaf person by supporting Hearing Dogs and give them a second chance. Why not get involved and get the chance to meet some of these amazing dogs yourself?

If you want to learn more about hearing dogs or are interested in getting involved, you can visit: http://www.hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteering/opportunities-in-your-area for more information.

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Emily’s Story

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Emily Thornton was born profoundly deaf but has gone on to win, amongst many other awards, top Hound handler in UK four times.
 “When I was 7, I wanted a fish. Parents said no. Then I said I wanted a rabbit. Parents said no. Then I said I wanted a horse. Mum said yes! But dad said no. Finally I said I wanted a dog, and eventually parents said yes!
So we’ve been looking at the breeds and the Beagle seemed like perfect breed for us and eventually met Bella. From that night, she changed my life and my confidence just grew and grew. She was the best friend and the one in a million for me. We did do everything together and our bond was genuinely special. Because of Bella and all the hard trainings we’ve done together. 
If it wasn’t for Bella, I wouldn’t have won all those achievements and I wouldn’t be at where I am now, with five beagles under my name and would be so confident to do my three jobs, as a Dance teacher, Sports Massage therapist and a Commis Chef. Bella has genuinely helped me becoming the person I am today and I will never ever find another dog just like her and I truly miss her.
 Dog aren’t only man’s best friend, but also can be a deaf person’s best friend.”

 

3 thoughts on “Hearing Dogs gets the Doctor Who treatment. Batteries not included…

  1. You can include buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually-impaired or hearing-impaired person, or a person with other physical disabilities.

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