National Hearing Test promotes 'Action for hearing loss' this World Hearing Day

Posted on March 03, 2017


According to Prof De Wet Swanepoel, professor of Audiology in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Pretoria, 'More than 3 million South Africans suffer from permanent, disabling hearing loss.' Prof Swanepoel is the lead-inventor of hearZA, a downloadable application available on both the Android and iOS platforms. hearZA, the National Hearing Test App, is a world-first – a clinically valid hearing test on a smartphone that produces results in under three minutes. The application was launched on World Hearing Day in March 2016, as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative highlighting hearing loss as the most common chronic disability.

The theme for this year's World Hearing Day, on 3 March 2017, is 'Action for hearing loss'. Called a silent epidemic, hearing loss affects 1 in 7 persons annually. It has pervasive and far-reaching effects on development in children, including speech, language, cognition and socio-emotional well-being, and is a major barrier to educational success. In adults, its effects include social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and a threefold increase in the risk of dementia. The World Health Organization estimates that hearing loss results in an annual cost of US$750 billion globally.

The hearZA app, developed and validated by the University of Pretoria, provides every user with a free hearing test. Through early detection and linkage to care the team envisages the app helping to eliminate avoidable hearing impairment. To date, it has been used to test more than 24 646 people, and has identified 4 773 with hearing loss and linked close to 500 people to their nearest hearing health care providers.

Click on the icon below to listen to an example of the hearing test.

Available on any iOS or Android device, the app is accessible to everyone in South Africa. With an estimated 6 million South Africans suffering from hearing loss, the hearZA app allows every South African to take a free hearing test on a smartphone. If a problem is detected, the app uses geolocation to link people with their nearest hearing health care provider.

This World Hearing Day, the University will hold a campaign to raise awareness of the free mobile hearing technology and the importance of preventative screening. The campaign includes a variety of activities on traditional radio stations and digital and social media channels. We have partnered with professional organisations including the South African Audiological Association and the South African Speech-Language-Hearing Association to register more than 300 audiology practices nationally. This World Hearing Day, the hearZA app will continue its mission to provide healthy hearing for everyone, everywhere.

Click here for more information on World Hearing Day. 

Prof  Swanepoel demonstrating the hearZA app to a user


- Author Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

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