Hearing loss affects around one in six Australians, and is predicted to rise to 25% (one in four) by the year 2050.
Along with old age, other causes of hearing loss include accidents and exposure to excessive loud noise. While workplace noise was sighted as the main cause in the past, the focus has now shifted to the personal listening devices worn by young people, which have the potential to cause permanent hearing damage if the noise is excessive and prolonged.
As well as the cost to our health and wellbeing, hearing loss is estimated to cost the nation billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. Hearing Awareness Week is an initiative of the Deafness Forum of Australia to raise awareness of this often underrated and under-reported condition.
What role does The Deafness Forum of Australia play?
The Deafness Forum of Australia is the peak national body representing the interests of the deaf, deafblind and those with hearing loss or chronic ear or balance disorders. It advises the Australian Government on public policy matters and its members include the hearing impaired and their families and those individuals and associations that provide services promoting hearing health and wellbeing.
What happens during Hearing Awareness Week?
Held in the last full week of August each year (20th to the 26th in 2017), Hearing Awareness Week is an initiative of the Deafness Forum of Australia designed to raise awareness of hearing loss and highlight the needs of Australians who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Communities come together to hold various events reinforcing the message that hearing is a precious and fragile sense and one that we need to safeguard at all costs. Activities include conferences, seminars, information displays and free hearing tests conducted around the country.
How can you get involved?
The most important way to get involved during Hearing Awareness Week is to focus on your own hearing and that of your friends and family. The Deafness Forum of Australia urges everyone to take stock of what’s happening in their own household and if you or any of your family are having difficulty hearing, no matter how gradual the decline, you should arrange a hearing test as soon as possible.
According to research, it takes people an average of seven years from the time they start thinking they might have a hearing problem to actually seek treatment, so the time to act is sooner rather than later.
We are also encouraged to examine the listening habits of our children during Hearing Awareness Week, with the golden rule being that if they are wearing ear buds and you can hear their music, then it’s too loud and is damaging their ears.