Hearing Awareness Week is from March 1 to 7. It is an annual event that highlights the issues affecting Australians living with hearing loss. The holiday is a vital part of the ongoing effort by the government of Australia and its N.G.O.s to improve the issues that people with hearing loss face. Did you know 3.5 million Australians aged 15 and over, which represents 22% of its population, have mild to severe hearing issues? An average of one in six Australians has a hearing disability. The holiday aims to spread awareness about the positive impact of looking after our hearing health, which contributes to our quality of life, social engagement, career, confidence, and communication.
History of Hearing Awareness Week
In the “Ebers Papyrus,” an Ancient Egyptian medical document from 1550 B.C., the concept of hearing loss is first mentioned within a description of a remedy for an “ear that hears badly.” People with the impairment were generally treated well until Ancient Greek philosopher Plato suggested in 350 B.C. that anyone born deaf could not be intelligent, which led to their exclusion from society and access to civil rights until recent times. In the 10th century Burgundy, Eastern France, some monks formed the very first sign language to communicate while they observed their vows of silence, and the first school for the deaf was established in the mid-16th century by Benedictine monk Pedro Ponce de Leon based on it. The ‘ear trumpet’ was invented in the early 17th century as a pioneer in hearing aid technologies. It is described in historical records as a “funnel for sound,” which became a popular treatment for hearing loss by the end of that century.
The most significant advances in hearing loss prevention, treatment and cure, came only in the last few decades with the invention of assistive listening devices, cochlear implants, and other amplification aids. Hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise is now considered preventable unlike when it begins during childhood as is the case for more than 65 million people globally. According to a recent Global Burden of Disease Study report by the WHO, over one billion people worldwide are affected by hearing loss. The report also noted that it causes moderate to severe disability in about 124 million people, 108 million of whom live in low and middle-income countries. Problematic hearing loss only sets in for most people in their 70s. Statistics show that almost everyone will suffer some hearing loss if they live long enough, and almost every centenarian can’t hear well.
Hearing Awareness Week is an annual event in Australia organized to raise awareness on hearing impairment. It aims to improve the social inclusion of the one in six Australians who are deaf, have a hearing impairment, or have chronic ear disorder. According to a recently released report by the Hearing Care Industry Association, these 3.5 million Australians represent 22% of its population aged 15 and over. The core mission of the week is to help all Australians with hearing loss achieve a better quality of life by sharing their experiences and knowledge and inspiring people to understand their needs and aspirations better.
Hearing Awareness Week is also about encouraging the general public, especially employers, to offer more support, make society more inclusive, and the workplace more conducive for Australians with hearing loss.
Hearing Awareness Week timeline
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops the ISO standards for the estimation of hearing thresholds and noise-induced hearing impairment.
WHO’s Global Burden of Disease Study notes that hearing loss affects about 1.1 billion people to some degree.
A World Health Organization report estimates that unaddressed hearing loss costs between $750 to 790 billion worldwide each year.
To mark Hearing Awareness Week, the Hearing Care Industry Association (H.C.I.A.) releases a research report about the value of expanding the hearing services program to low-income earners.
Hearing Awareness Week FAQs
How do you observe Hearing Awareness Week?
Spread awareness about the week on social media. More importantly, if you have a business, employ people with hearing disabilities and help them to feel included.
What month is Deaf Awareness Month?
September is Deaf Awareness Month. International Week of the Deaf, which is the last week in September, closes off the awareness month.
Who is the most famous deaf person?
Although an acute illness when she was a year and a half left her deaf, blind, and mute, Helen Keller amazingly went on to become an educator, author, and disability activist. She is the most famous disabled person in history and the co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.).
How to Observe Hearing Awareness Week
Improve the workspace
As an employer, given the high number of Australians living with hearing loss, observe this awareness holiday by providing adequate equipment and support for affected employees to do their job effectively. When hosting a meeting, help those with hearing loss to sit in a way that provides them with clear sound and an unobstructed view of the speaker’s lips. Where appropriate, seek to provide better audio relay systems in your phone network or meeting rooms.
Noise-induced hearing loss is especially common in the workplace. Noise creates stress and can be a safety hazard at work. It can be a distraction that makes warnings harder to hear. Reducing noise levels at the source is an effective way to protect the hearing of those who work in loud environments like construction sites, and is arguably one of the best ways to observe Hearing Awareness Week.
Sensitizing people about the ways to better prepare the workplace for people with hearing loss is another way to observe Hearing Awareness Week. Follow discussions around the holiday by using the hashtag #HearingAwarenessWeek.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hearing Loss
Early identification is beneficial
Yet most people wait as long as seven years before consulting a doctor.
It is preventable
About half of the global cases are preventable through public health measures like immunization, proper prenatal care, avoiding loud noise, and avoiding certain medications.
No evidence of a genetic connection
More than 90% of children who are born deaf have hearing parents.
Curability is dependant on the damage location
Conductive hearing loss caused by problems with the bones and external auditory mechanism can be corrected through surgery or medication, while sensorineural loss which affects the inner ear, nerves, or parts of the brain is permanent and can only be managed.
Causes of permanent loss are scarily prevalent
Common activities, such as listening to loud music through earphones or staying in a noisy subway for up to 15 minutes, can lead to permanent deafness over time.
Why Hearing Awareness Week is Important
It promotes empathy
Hearing Awareness Week encourages empathy towards everyone with a hearing disability. For these 3.5 million Australians, it means they stand a better chance to be included in all aspects of community and business life more than they currently are. It means the 22% of Australians aged 15 and over who have a hearing impairment can share even more of their experiences and help employers have a better understanding of their needs.
It pushes for social inclusivity
The empathy promoted by Hearing Awareness Week leads to increased sensitivity to the experiences, needs, and aspirations of people with hearing loss. The mission is to spread the knowledge of what the daily lives of the affected Australians are like to foster their inclusion into areas of society.
It gathers diverse opinion
Since the mission of Hearing Awareness Week is to improve the inclusion of Australians affected by hearing loss into society, companies with adequate workforce diversity often serve as a springboard for a more wholesome broker of opinion. More conversation that entertains all experiences and perspectives leads to a broader acceptance of people considered “different.”
Hearing Awareness Week dates