About us

History of the charity

The charity was established in 1984 as the "Hearing Information Bureau" to support people with hearing loss. This later became the "Hertfordshire Deafness Support Association" (HeDSA), an ad-hoc committee of the Hertfordshire League of the Hard of Hearing. We were sad to hear that the former Honorary Secretary of the Hertfordshire League, Miriam Slee, died in 2014.

At that time Christopher Shaw was the Chairman, and Janet Shaw was the County Coordinator, later to become the Volunteer Support Officer. Early volunteers were trained at St. Margaret's, Epping, a department with which we continue to work with. Within a few years, Martyn Gatehouse joined the staff as Development Manager.

Philip Linnegar, who had been Head of Marketing for national charity Hearing Concern, was appointed as CEO of Hertfordshire Deafness Support Association in 1995. He co-ordinated the incorporation of HeDSA into HHAS in 1997.

In 1998, Philip was appointed as CEO for Middlesex Association for the Blind. He returned to HHAS as CEO in 2001 and has been the charity's CEO since then.

In 2006, the charity launched a mobile service to help hard of hearing people in Bedfordshire. In 2013, the charity launched the West Essex Hearing Advisory Service to help people with hearing loss in West Essex.

In 2014, the charity was awarded a contract from Suffolk County Council to provide services and activities for deaf and hard of hearing people in Suffolk. The services include lip-reading classes, deaf-blind clubs and NHS hearing aid maintenance. The charity also launched a pilot hearing support service in Northamptonshire in 2014.

Over the last 30 years, the charity has helped tens of thousands of people in East of England. By December 2014, our Volunteer Support Service (started in 1984) had provided 75,000 consultations; our Hearing Support Service (started in 1997) had provided 53,000 consultations and our Bedfordshire Service (started in 2000) had provided 7,000 consultations.

The goals for the Charity are to continue developing new services for Deaf and hard of hearing people, and working with NHS Audiology to attract diverse streams of sustainable project funding.

There is a growing demand for the charity's services due to the ageing population across the region. For example, in 2010, there were 101,343 hard of hearing people in Hertfordshire and this number is expected to rise by approximately 20% by 2020.

History timeline

1984     Hearing Information Bureau formed and Volunteer Support Service started
1997     HHAS incorporated and Hearing Support Service started
2000     Bedfordshire HAS Service started
2013     West Essex HAS Service started
2014     Suffolk HAS Service and Northamptonshire HAS Service started