Mar 032019
 

Today is World Hearing Day, a campaign held each year by the Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness of the World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign’s objective is to share information and promote actions towards the prevention of hearing loss and the improvement of hearing care. The first event was held in 2007. Before 2016 it was known as International Ear Care Day. Each year, the WHO selects a theme, develops educational materials, and makes these freely available in several languages. It also coordinates and reports on events around the globe.

Public domains materials at https://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/2019/en/

Poster and other materials available online at https://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/2019/en/

The theme of the campaign for 2019 is “Check your hearing” since data from both developed and developing countries indicate that a significant part of the burden associated with hearing loss comes from unaddressed hearing difficulties. A study conducted in the United Kingdom indicates that only 20% of those who have a hearing problem seek treatment. A study performed in South Africa reported that individuals who experience hearing difficulties wait between 5 and 16 years to seek diagnosis and treatment.

This issue strikes particularly close to home for me because I am severely hearing impaired in my right ear and partially impaired in my left. It’s a genetic disorder. One of my sisters has hearing aids and my maternal grandfather had a similar disability. I’ve had multiple tests done by audiologists, but so far I’ve managed without any special aids. I can’t understand people if they speak too softly, but I lip read (or, more accurately, speech read) well enough. Also, I cannot understand speech in locations where there is too much ambient noise, so I avoid them as much as possible.  At this stage it’s more of a nuisance than a crippling problem, although my friends are more disadvantaged than I am because they rarely remember that I am hearing impaired and do things such as walking with me on my right side or speaking to me from another room, and in those situations I cannot understand what they are saying. When possible I use earphones and/or closed captions for television and streaming.

People tend to forget that I am hearing impaired because I have good compensating mechanisms in place, but it does annoy me if they get their hackles up when they think I should have heard them the first time, yet they’ve been talking softly on my right side. Hearing impaired is hearing impaired. Getting irritated with me is not helpful. So my two cents for World Hearing Day is to encourage everyone to be more understanding of people with disabilities. Yes, I could be fitted for a hearing aid if it would make you happier, but it really takes very little effort to look at me when you are talking to me, and that way I can see your mouth and understand you. Is that asking too much?


I liked the theme for 2015, “Make Listening Safe”, which drew attention to the rising problem of noise-induced hearing loss due to recreational exposure. I would have widened the theme, though. The focus was primarily on concerts, movies, etc. where the volume of sound equipment is intentionally high. I am very careful to avoid such situations because I cannot afford to have additional damage to what hearing remains due to careless exposure caused by others.

Instead of a recipe today I am going to give you a video that focuses primarily on the sounds of cooking. It’s shot outdoors, so there are also some sounds of nature thrown in for good measure. It’s a bit backwoodsy, but it’s mainly making the point that cooking involves all the senses including hearing. Many cooking styles such as baking and simmering aren’t exactly a symphony of sound, but frying more than makes up for it.

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