Old name, new purpose: why we’ve gone back to RNID

Our timeline

We’ve helped millions of people in the century since our charity began. Our key events show how we’ve been changing lives from our start in 1911 right up to today.

1911

On 9 June, Leo Bonn, founds The National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf.

1924

We reorganise the charity to raise our post-war profile and rename it The National Institute for the Deaf.

1929

We open our first residential care home in Lancashire, going on to become one of the UK’s leading specialist-care providers.

1939

We support the war effort by sending hearing aids to deaf prisoners of war, which can be converted into miniature radio receivers for spying purposes!

1946

We launch The Silent Word, a monthly magazine to give deaf people a voice and spread information about hearing issues.

1948

We successfully lobby the newly formed NHS to provide free hearing aids and batteries UK-wide.

1957

We launch our first helpline, the Personal Advice Bureau, to answer the increasing number of queries we receive.

1958

We’re delighted that HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose mother was deaf from birth, becomes our royal patron.

1961

The Queen approves the addition of ‘Royal’ to our name for our jubilee year. We become the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

People work in an office
The RNID Technical Department pictured in 1964. The department developed assistive technology to help deaf people and those with hearing loss and tinnitus

1969

We launch a hearing aid battery tester to help hearing aid users check their batteries easily and quickly.

1974

Following our research, the NHS issues behind-the-ear hearing aids.

1978

We’re awarded 4 camper vans by the BBC TV programme Blue Peter. The vans allow RNID staff to visit children who live in rural areas and provide hearing tests, specialist teaching and other audiology services.

A Blue Peter van
One of 4 camper vans awarded to the charity by Blue Peter in 1978

1983

We successfully campaign for rubella vaccinations for young women. The virus, which can cause deafness and other disabilities in unborn babies, has since been virtually wiped out in the UK.

1989

Michael Batt becomes the first British child to receive a cochlear implant, following almost a decade of research and work with surgeons at the Royal Ear Hospital.

2000

Following our campaign with the National Deaf Children’s Society, all newborn babies are offered hearing screening by the NHS. We also start working with the NHS to deliver modern digital hearing aids as standard.

2004

Research we fund links a type of gene, called a microRNA, to hearing loss for the first time. This work opens up a new field of research into hearing loss.

2011

We celebrate our 100th birthday and change our name to Action on Hearing Loss.

We also launch our Translational Research Initiative for Hearing (TRIH), which encourages pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus.

2012

Research funded by us shows human stem cells restore hearing in deafened gerbils – a breakthrough in the search for a way to restore natural hearing.

2013

We merge with medical charity Deafness Research UK. Together, and with more funding, we’re determined to cure hearing loss within a generation.

2015

A new genetic test for hearing loss becomes available on the NHS as a result of research we funded. The test screens for most of the known genes that cause deafness.

2016

Research breakthrough identified the first gene, SERPINF1, to cause otosclerosis, a condition leading to deafness.

2017

Our campaigners change the law by securing an amendment to the Digital Economy Act 2017.

This gave the government power to regulate online video services and require them to have a minimum level of subtitled and signed content.

2018

Thanks to our calls, NICE publishes the first guideline for the assessment and management of hearing loss. This recognises the enormous benefit hearing aids provide and states that hearing aids should be given to all who need them.

2020

We change our name back to RNID and launch our new purpose:

“Together, we will make life fully inclusive for deaf people and those with hearing loss or tinnitus.”

2021

We launch a free online hearing check. It takes up to 3 minutes and will suggest whether your hearing is in a normal range or whether you may have hearing loss.

A graphic of the RNID online hearing check
The RNID online hearing check

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