World Hearing Day 2022 – Why Make Listening Safe Matters to us ALL?

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This year the World Hearing Day theme is “To hear for life, listen with care”. the theme is mainly aimed at the prevention of hearing loss, but the actions and recommendations benefit us all.

To quote Hellen Keller

“Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.”

While she lived in times where hearing loss did prevent us from interacting with others on par with hearing people, despite advances in hearing care and technologies, her words still ring true. Our members use hearing aids and cochlear implants depending on the levels of their hearing loss and while this life-enhancing technology is allowing us to hear better, it does not replace hearing abilities we used to enjoy. Living with hearing loss requires major life changes and the need to adapt strategies in daily life.

In 2011, the French Hard of Hearing Association, Bucodes, conducted a survey among their members. More than 2500 responded to it. They were asked, among different questions, what caused them the biggest trauma in their lives:-

Losing their job;

Experiencing violence;

Death of close relative; or

Experiencing hearing loss.

¾ responded choosing hearing loss as the most traumatic experience. In addition, the majority of those who picked the response was between 18-50 years old, suggesting hearing loss when it occurs during active, working life is the main cause of trauma.

In the same sample, 40% of respondents had mild to moderate hearing loss and responded by putting hearing loss as No1 distressing experience.

Those who have experienced hearing loss in adult life, know what it is like to face daily communication issues due to us no longer hearing well. Therefore, it is our duty to bear witness and warn of the harmful practices which is what the listening campaign is all about. There are many reasons why people experience hearing loss, some are entirely out of their control but there is one thing that we can control, our habits, which can be harmful, such as listening to loud music over prolonged time, resulting in many cases in hearing damage. And like with the Eggs analogy, once the egg is cracked, you cannot turn the clock back, it is the same with hearing loss. Once the damage occurs, you cannot bring back the ability to hear as before.

Whilst the launch of WHO Global Standard for Safe Listening Entertainment Venues is aimed at preventing hearing loss due to unsafe levels of noise, it is also important for hard of hearing and deafened people who often struggle with conversations in noisy environments; designating quiet places allows us to feel more confident to enter the venues. The recent study on noisy restaurants and recommendations for safe listening[1] also benefit us, by helping make restaurants less noisy places.

We need more awareness of the harmful noise exposure, life is very noisy indeed and any actions to reduce that noise are actions that will benefit us all. This is why NADP supports WHD2022. More information on how we will be supporting this event will be shown on our website and in our emails to those of you who have signed up for them.

 

Lidia Best

 

[1] https://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Fulltext/2022/01000/Study_Shows_Noisy_Restaurants_Pose_Health_Risks.5.aspx?context=FeaturedArticles&collectionId=2

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