Home>Engagement>Aid Projects>Africa>South Africa: app-based hearing screenings for 27'000 children

Two thirds of Cape Town's inhabitants live in townships and have rarely access to audiological care. In order to close this gap, our project partner, hearX Foundation, uses a self-developed app for non-professionals to conduct hearing screenings. Thanks to this new technology the hearing of 27'000 school children can be screened until 2021.

Place & Year

Cape Town, South Africa, 2017-2021

Project Partners

hearX Foundation


Technology Funding

Main Focus

Children Providing audiological care for children in low-income countries is a focal area of the Hear the World Foundation’s activities.
Professional training The Hear the World Foundation supports projects that enable continuous audiological training for professionals on site.
Prevention of hearing loss The Hear the World Foundation globally promotes awareness for the topics of hearing and hearing loss and thus actively contributes toward the prevention of hearing loss.
Programs for parents & families By supporting self-help groups for parents, the Hear the World Foundation makes an important contribution, thus ensuring that affected parents receive specific help and assistance.

The lack of audiological care for people in need is well known in South Africa. In 2012 the government introduced a mandatory hearing-test program for school children - also for those living in townships but its implementation is not progressing as planned due to a lack of experts. On average, there are only 2.4 audiologists per 100'000 inhabitants in South Africa, compared to 16.4 in the UK. Moreover audiology equipment is prohibitively expensive for the country’s public authorities.  

The hearX Foundation has addressed this problem by introducing a hearing screening app. The app is designed so that screenings can be carried out without knowledge of audiology using only a special smartphone and headphones – with only minimal training. Another of the app’s advantages: it reduces the cost of the hearing screening by 50 to 70 percent.

Hearing screenings for children in townships

Early detection and timely treatment of hearing loss are at the heart of the #HearSouthAfrica project. By March 2021, the hearScreen app will be used to screen the hearing of 27'000 school children (age 5 to 7) in need living in townships near Cape Town and Pretoria.

Screenings conducted by locals

The hearing screenings are conducted by community workers, residents of the townships themselves. They know their way around, are able to assess potentially dangerous situations and speak the local languages. Their commitment to the project in South Africa means a lot to these individuals, allowing them to contribute to their community and overcome unemployment.

Timely treatment ensured

If a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, a second screening is carried out. If a child fails both hearing screenings, it is referred to a local audiologist. If the government health program is unable to provide the child with hearing aids within a reasonable amount of time, the Hear the World Foundation temporarily lends new hearing aids to the child. This ensures that children in need are provided with hearing aids immediately and that their development is not delayed due to waiting times.

Prevention campaign with Swiss musician

Swiss musician and Hear the World ambassador Marc Sway joined the local project team together with a group of volunteers, all employees from Sonova, for a week and supported their hearing loss prevention campaign at nine of the largest schools in the townships. For this purpose, he changed the text of the children's song Old MacDonald had a farm adding hearing loss prevention messages. He sang this song with the school children and by doing this, not only taught them how important it is to protect the hearing, he also relieved them of the fear of the hearing test to follow.