Does hearing loss research & development understand what we need?
On May 25th HLAA, in collaboration with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), held an open webinar. The purpose of this 4 hour event was to provide an opportunity for people with hearing loss to share their experiences and concerns. Polls identified the greatest concerns hard of hearing people have, and identified their hopes for a future where hearing loss is better understood and treated with a higher priority.
Managing background noise was identified as the most frustrating issue people have whether they are using sophisticated hearing technology or not. This is no surprise to anyone with hearing loss. It is interesting to note, however, that developed technologies used for other purposes have managed to eliminate this problem. Broadcasters at major sports events do use equipment that minimizes background noise so their voices can be heard. Why is this kind of technology not used with hearing devices? Panelists expressed concern that miniaturization in development of hearing instruments was the focus, rather than focusing on making products better by eliminating this noise issue.
That is just one of the conversations held within the webinar. The transcript of this very interesting webinar will be posted at the HLAA website soon. Meanwhile, anyone who has concerns about treatment for hearing loss has an opportunity to comment via the website by answering a few of the posted questions you will find there. https://www.hearingloss.org/hlaa-pfdd/
They want to know what matters to us. The comment options is only available until June 25th. I hope you'll provide information to the FDA about your personal experiences.
A very hopeful part of this event included a discussion on potential cures for sensorineural hearing loss, something we have only dreamed about. It was pointed out that many dreams have come true in this field during the past 30 years. Speech to text apps, cochlear implants, realtime captioning, etc. We've come a long way, but there is a long way to go. Perhaps some of it relates the the fact that way too many hard of hearing people refuse to take action. They hide their hearing loss because society has stigmatized the condition. 80% of people who could benefit from hearing technology, do not have it. Only 5% of the people who could benefit from cochlear implants have them. We must let the FDA know more about how poor hearing affects our lives. As long as it is misunderstood, change and improvement will happen slowly.