The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) highlighted the benefits of hearing technology for creating a more inclusive society.

For Deaf Awareness Week, the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) is highlighting the major benefits of hearing technology usage on creating a more inclusive society and the current barriers patients are facing in accessing hearing care.

This year’s Deaf Awareness Week is centered around the theme of inclusion. People living with deafness and hearing loss can face significant barriers to communication, which can lead to social isolation, limited employment opportunities, and reduced access to essential services. Research shows that one of the best ways to improve inclusion for people with hearing loss is by using hearing instruments.

The latest UK Eurotrak survey data showed that 90% of hearing instrument users found their hearing devices useful for their job. Likewise, there was a strong consensus that hearing instrument usage correlated with improved job opportunities.

The survey also found that those using hearing instruments (compared to hearing-impaired individuals without hearing technology) were less likely to get depressed and experienced a higher quality of sleep. In addition, 66% of hearing instrument owners felt they should have obtained them sooner because of their positive impact on their lives.

“These crucial findings all contribute to the way that an individual navigates daily life and, as a result, those vital feelings of inclusion. Our survey also found that those who regularly wore hearing devices felt that they could communicate more effectively in most situations, had an improved social life, more confidence, and participated more in group activities,” said Paul Surridge, BIHIMA chairman.

However, while these findings are promising, the survey also revealed a variety of reasons people don’t wear their hearing instruments, including:

  • Discomfort (67% identified this as either a reason or somewhat a reason)
  • Lack of severity of their hearing impairment (65% identified this as either a reason or somewhat a reason)
  • Not restoring their hearing ‘back to normal’ (56% identified this as either a reason or somewhat a reason)

This suggests that improvements are needed to the fitting and aftercare processes for hearing instruments.

“We know that there are people who simply don’t use their hearing instruments, and they end up sitting in a drawer,” said Surridge. “Today’s hearing instruments use state-of-the-art technology with the potential to change people’s lives. Rehabilitation and personalization are fundamental to ensure patients make use of and benefit from their hearing instruments.”

“Waiting times play a contributing role to accessibility, with many patients told they must wait weeks or even months for an initial appointment to assess their hearing. We also find that those within poorer socioeconomic demographics, minority groups, homeless individuals, and people with addictions are facing their own barriers to obtaining support for their hearing loss.”

BIHIMA is advocating for hearing care to be made a greater priority by the government.

“We want hearing care to be as significant a priority as eye care – hearing tests should be included for free as part of the NHS Health Check offered to people over 40,” said Surridge. “We also want to see more research undertaken around the impact not only of hearing loss but hearing instrument usage.”

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