Better Hearing = Better Lives
Providing access to affordable hearing aids not only improves quality of life, it also allows children to attend school and improves their chances of finding a good job. World Wide Hearing creates the opportunity for hearing-impaired individuals to realize their full potential as productive members of society. Read on to learn about the different ways hearing affects a person's life.
The connections we form with others and the quality of our relationships are possible thanks to our ability to communicate. Communication allows us to study, find work, relate to others, and participate in social activities.
Hearing is a critical aspect of communication. It’s crucial to developing meaningful relationships and fully enjoying life, whether participating in a conversation between friends or enjoying music or the sounds of nature.
People who can’t hear are cut off from their family, friends, and community. They often suffer from discrimination, stigmatization, and inferior educational and social services. In some countries they are seen as a source of shame and hidden away from view. As a result, they are more at risk of developing mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Better hearing enables people to connect to those around them and participate in community life. Children who have access to hearing aids are able to grow up healthier and happier, and are better equipped to face the future as adults.
Hearing aids can reduce poverty while enabling individuals to realize their full potential as productive members of their communities. A child with a hearing aid can to do better in school, get a diploma, and have access to a better job.
The annual financial cost of hearing loss in the United States alone has been estimated between $122 billion and $186 billion, equivalent to 2-3% of its GNP.1 In Australia, the financial cost of hearing loss in 2005 was $11.75 billion AUD, or 1.4% of its GDP.2
The bulk of this impact is due to lost productivity (higher unemployment and lower wages), which accounts for 57% of all costs associated with hearing loss. However, hearing loss also costs society billions of dollars each year in unrealized tax revenue and specialized health programs. Developing countries trying to lift themselves out of poverty are weighed down by the financial burden of this untreated disability.
In the United States 50% of the costs of hearing loss could be recovered simply by providing hearing aids.3 In Australia, every $1 invested in early-intervention hearing care and speech therapy for children results in an economic return of $1.91.4 Affordable hearing care can be a powerful force to stimulate economic development in the developing world.
World Wide Hearing conducted a research study in Guatemala from 2015-2016 to understand the impact of providing a hearing aid to a person with hearing loss. We also looked at the lives of people with hearing loss prior to obtaining a hearing aid in order to understand the challenges they face. Here are our key findings:
People with hearing loss:
- Were significantly poorer than people without disabling hearing loss
- Were twice as likely to have symptoms of depression
- Had a significantly poorer quality of life
After receiving hearing aids:
- 82% were satisfied with their hearing aids
- 71% of people used them daily
- 78% used them for at least four hours per day
The use of hearing aids created a significant improvement in mental health & wellbeing, including:
- Reduction in moderate-severe symptoms of depression
- 86% of case participants reported that hearing aids increased their self-confidence
- 88% of case participants reported that hearing aids had positively changed their enjoyment of life
- 23% felt safer wearing their hearing aids
- 56% reported that the most significant benefit of wearing hearing aids had been the ability to communicate with family and friends
Hearing loss has a substantial and broad ranging negative impact on the lives of people living in Guatemala, including their: economic status, mental health and quality of life. In less than a year of usage, hearing aids significantly improve mental health and quality of life. World Wide Hearing hopes that these results will galvanize efforts to address hearing loss and ensure a better life for all affected.
- 1. Ruben, R. J. (2000). “Redefining the Survival of the Fittest: Communication Disorders in the 21st Century.” Laryngoscope 110 (2, part 1): 241–45. ↑
- 2. Listen Hear! The Economic Impact and Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia (Access Economics Pty Ltd, February 2006), 5. ↑
- 3. Sergei Kochkin, The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income (Better Hearing Institute, August 2005), 2. ↑
- 4. Robert Cowan, A social cost-benefit analysis: Early intervention programs to assist children with hearing loss develop spoken language (full report) (First Voice, July 2011), 68. ↑