Student campaigns for free hearing aid batteries

There are calls for hearing aid batteries to be subsidised for deaf New Zealanders, and a 16-year-old Auckland student is leading the charge.

Green Bay High School student Felix Shaw has relied on hearing aids since he was three months old. He was born with a rare condition called cat's eye syndrome which causes deafness.

But he can hear, thanks to his implants and hearing aids worth more than $7000.

"If I didn't have hearing aids, I wouldn't be able to hear anything," he said. "I wouldn't be able to do the activities I love."

Hearing aids and batteries have always been fully funded but that stops once you turn 18, or 21 years old if you're in full-time education.

Felix goes through a pack and a half of batteries each week.

"I'm gonna have to pay $7.50 a week when I turn 18," he said.

The cost adds up to $390 a year.

It inspired Felix to present a speech to his class on the topic, which resulted in the petition calling for free hearing aid batteries.

"I handed the speech into my teacher and a week later she said 'is this seriously the cost you have to pay?'" he said.

"I said 'yeah' and she said 'that's not fair at all, you should try do something about it'."

There are now more than 2000 signatures and it's even caught the attention of some MPs.

Felix said the dream would be for the petition to go through Parliament and hearing aid batteries get funded for all people born deaf.

"I just want to people to be aware there are people out there in the deaf community, who were born deaf and are forced to pay a cost just to hear."

Felix's mum, Tanya Mogg, said it's also about raising awareness of the hidden costs of a disability.

"There's extras that you fund," she said. "But I think the costs are not just in things you buy, but in the huge amounts of time off school for audiology appointments or fittings.

"Or there was a period where he was getting a lot of infections and had to have surgeries."

Felix wants to get into construction when he's older, and he hopes his petition will help other hearing-impaired New Zealanders achieve their dreams too.