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«Dont let hearing loss limit you» is the theme of this year's World Hearing Day 2020 on March 3rd. On this day, the WHO wants to raise awareness for the importance of good hearing, early detection and proper treatment of hearing loss. Because only those who can hear properly can participate in daily life without limitations. Since 2006, the Hear the World Foundation has enabled people in need with hearing loss to hear better. 

Together with the WHO and Sonova we want to raise awareness of hearing and hearing loss among as many people as possible. In an experiment, 16 children experienced the limitations that untreated hearing loss causes. We accompanied them with a camera.

«I am very grateful that I can hear well.»

How does it feel when you suddenly no longer understand your schoolmates or the teacher? When you can't hear what they're saying? Or if they say anything at all? When you see everyone laughing - but don't know why?

We wanted to find out and put special headphones on 16 primary school pupils at Obersee Bilingual School in Pfäffikon SZ to simulate hearing loss. «It was quite unpleasant,» said one girl after the experiment. Another said: «It was sad. I felt kind of left out.»

Immediately, the children devised strategies to deal with the limitations. They tried to read lips. They tried to explain themselves with gestures, or walked very close to their comrade's ear and talked as loud as possible.

When the children were allowed to take off their headphones after the end of the experiment, everyone was relieved and grateful to hear normally again. To be able to talk to their friends again and to hear music or other beautiful sounds. They all agreed that a world without hearing would be a difficult world.

The experiment was an exciting and extremely insightful learning experience for the children, especially considering the fact that around 466 million people worldwide - 34 million of them children - are affected by hearing loss. The World Health Organization estimates that this number will rise to over 900 million people by 2050.

In addition to the experiment at school, an audiologist introduced the children involved to the topics of hearing, hearing loss, the consequences of hearing loss and prevention. The girls and boys were not only able to experience first-hand what hearing loss feels like. They also learned about the educational, social and emotional consequences of hearing loss and what precautionary measures should be taken to prevent hearing loss in the first place.

Hear the World Foundation: Prevention and treatment of hearing loss

The consequences of hearing loss are serious: children who cannot hear or hear poorly cannot learn to speak. They have difficulties at school and later in working life. This means they have little chance of leading an independent life. 

80 percent of people with hearing loss live in low to middle-income countries and have little access to audiological or medical care. 60 percent of all hearing loss in children could be avoided through prevention.

That's why since 2006, the Hear the World Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life and promoting equal opportunities for people in need with hearing loss around the world.