The World Health organization (WHO) is offering a free app that allows users to check their hearing with a mobile device. Launched to coincide with World Hearing Day, the app—called “hearWHO”— is available for free on Apple and Google Play.
The app aims to help more people detect hearing loss earlier and obtain effective treatment, which can potentially prevent further damage and preserve existing hearing. By making it easy to check hearing regularly, the app also aims to make users aware of high-risk listening habits, such as loud headphone volume or frequenting noisy places without wearing ear protection. WHO developers based the app on a validated digits-in-noise technology. The app also stores users’ scores to provide hearing-level comparisons for users.
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Audiologists can recommend the app to patients as a way to monitor their hearing between visits. It can also be used to expand hearing screenings to populations with limited access to hearing health care. According to the WHO statement about the app, by 2050 more than 900 million—or one in 10—people will experience debilitating hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss currently poses an annual global cost of $750 billion.
“Above all, this app will help us increase awareness of the importance of ear and hearing care,” says Shelly Chadha, WHO technical officer. “Once lost, hearing does not come back.”
Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for the ASHA Leader. firstname.lastname@example.org.