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Top award for deaf teenager

Posted May 12 2009 6:01pm

A profoundly deaf teenager has received an award at the House of Commons for her ideas about hearing research.

Helen Thomas, from Plymouth, scooped a top prize in the 'It's My Future' competition organised by Deafness Research UK.

The charity asked young deaf people to put forward ideas about where research into deafness should head over the next 20 years.

Prizes were awarded yesterday at a ceremony at the House of Commons, hosted by MP Malcolm Bruce, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness.

Helen, a cochlear implant recipient, said: "Maybe gene therapy can play a part, with replacing the faulty gene; I along with my family have had blood taken to see which gene is responsible for my deafness, this is something I would think research should focus on."

She also suggested new implant technology and a new type of spectacle or contact lens that could carry subtitles for the deaf. She said she would also like to see a wider understanding of sign language.

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, and one of the judges, added: "Helen has some extremely interesting ideas, some of which really ought to be possible with current technologies. Some of her more futuristic ideas like contact lenses with subtitles were particularly exciting, and we felt Helen had a really good grasp of the issues affecting the young deaf community. She is a worthy winner of her age group."

The competition was judged by a panel of deaf and hearing experts in deafness and hearing research.
The first prize in each group was £100, with runners up prizes of £50.

Read her full entry here.

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