World Hearing Day: Don’t let hearing loss limit you

March 3 is World Hearing Day, an initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The motto this year is “Don’t let hearing loss limit you”, focusing on how people with hearing impairments can achieve their full potential.

This is a vital message: According to the WHO, 466m people – 6.1 of the world’s population – are estimated to be living with hearing loss [1]. Too often, hearing impairment can result in being excluded from full participation in society – with education being a key area where this exclusion can begin. In the wider context of disability, UNICEF notes that “nearly 50 per cent of children with disabilities are not in school, compared to just 13 per cent of their peers without disabilities” [2]. This situation continues into higher education, where many deaf and hearing-impaired students struggle to fully achieve their potential due to the lack of support.

However, there are also opportunities to close the gaps through inclusive education that teaches people with diverse abilities side by side. This is a complex challenge, requiring solutions that combine advocacy, policy and training, but surprisingly it is also an area where smartphone technology is helping to play a role.

Many deaf and hearing-impaired students don’t receive the support needed to fully achieve their potential and benefit from education
Many deaf and hearing-impaired students don’t receive the support needed to fully achieve their potential and benefit from education

Accessibility by smartphone
The accessibility of smartphones has become an increasingly hot topic over recent years, with recent iterations of iOS™ and Android™ making it easier for users with limited visual, hearing or mobility to operate devices themselves. Yet, as personal devices that are always on, always available, smartphones are increasingly also offering a way for users to take more control of how they interact with the outside world. At the simplest level, the transition of more services online, is making it easier for those with hearing impairments to navigate the world: from engaging with companies through online chat to shopping online, smart devices are making digital access ever more convenient.

Additionally, dedicated solutions and apps are increasingly available to make the information available in the audio world more accessible. For example, apps are now available that can transcribe speech in real time or detect important sounds and flash visible onscreen alerts, and even translate speech into sign language. British charity, Action of Hearing Loss, provides an overview of several helpful solutions here. What unites such mobile solutions is the unprecedented combination of user-friendliness, connectivity and computing power that smartphones place in the hands of users. And these very same qualities are also proving transformational in education.

[1] World Health Organization 2020, Deafness and hearing loss:

[2] UNICEF, Inclusive education. Every child has the right to quality education and learning:

EJEAS – From Ardent Love, Specialized in Riding, Great at Innovation, Glad to share, Your Outdoor Intelligent and Secure Mobile Communication Partner.