Far from just another calendar observance, March 3 marks an opportunity to raise awareness of hearing care—and the services provided by audiologists.
Next week will bring World Hearing Day, an especially relevant day for the profession of audiology. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) designates March 3 as an international day of outreach on the subject of hearing care. This year’s theme is “Hear the Future.” We hope to make it easy for you to champion the cause using a new Digital Toolkit ASHA created for members.
This year’s theme spotlights an anticipated rise in the number of people with hearing loss in the coming years. According to WHO, 466 million people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss. Unless action is taken, by 2030 the number will rise to nearly 630 million.
In addition to expected growth in the number of people with hearing loss, WHO specified other key messages for this year’s World Hearing Day observance:
- How best to widely share appropriate preventative actions.
- Ensuring people with hearing loss can gain access to needed rehabilitation services and communication tools.
Once again, ASHA will champion this important day domestically—and we hope our members will join our efforts.
Awareness, prevention and access to the services of our members—these are points we can all get behind. Although in some respects the United States is in a better position than many other parts of the world when it comes to hearing health care, we have a long way to go. Consider the fact that so few adults who could benefit from hearing aids have ever actually used them—only 16 percent of adults ages 20–69, and 30 percent of those ages 70 and older, according to National Institutes of Health statistics.
You can help raise awareness about prevention using ASHA’s new Digital Toolkit, which provides a series of eye-catching, consumer-friendly resources ready to share on your personal and professional social media accounts. These graphics showcase statistics on hearing loss, factors contributing to the rise in hearing loss, and specific information and treatment considerations for people with hearing loss across the lifespan—newborn, child, adolescent and adult.
Of course, there are other things you may choose to do as well: Consider approaching your local newspaper with an op-ed about the toll of untreated hearing loss, host a screening event in your community, or partner with a local senior center or library to talk about hearing protection and treatment, to name a few.
Have other ideas? Comment below to offer your fellow members some inspiration.
Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the 2018 ASHA president. firstname.lastname@example.org