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3 March 2024 | Comment | Article by Francesca Bamsey

‘Ear and hearing care for all!’ – World Hearing Day 2024

On March 3rd each year the World Health Organization (WHO) campaign for ‘World Hearing Day’ to raise awareness for those suffering from hearing loss and promoting ear care across the globe.

This year’s theme centres around ‘Changing mindsets: ‘Let’s make ear and hearing care a reality for all!’. The focus this year is to ensure there is access to ear and hearing care services to all who need it and prioritising it as an essential health service. To increase awareness globally on World Hearing Day 2024, the WHO releases awareness-based materials including various posters, brochures, social media content and banners to educate all.

Globally over 80% of ear and hearing care needs remain unmet and with that in mind WHO has released a call to action for governments, industry partners and civil society to ensure ear and hearing care is met for everyone that needs it to lower that statistic. Additionally, they emphasised that deeply ingrained societal misperceptions and stigmatising mindsets are key factors that limit efforts for preventing and addressing hearing loss.

In our experience of providing legal services to service personnel and veterans experiencing hearing loss at Hugh James, we hear from many clients between the ages of 30 and 60 years old complaining of hearing difficulties that effect their ability to communicate in day-to-day life, with many needing access to hearing aids at a much younger age.

Across the UK it is estimated that over 300,000 ex-armed forces personnel are suffering from both noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus from being exposed to excessive levels of noise throughout their service from weapons, vehicles, aircrafts and explosives. This can be from exposure over a prolonged period or exposure extremely loud noises such as blasts and explosions. As a firm we see both ex and current service personnel come to us suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of hearing damage typically caused by the Ministry of Defence failing to provide adequate hearing protection against excessive noise exposure.

This year, the WHO is looking to tackle the myths surrounding hearing loss and to destigmatise the issue, such as:

  • ‘Hearing loss happens to the ‘old age’ when it can happen at any age.’
  • ‘Hearing loss is ‘inevitable’ when in reality it is preventable.’
  • ‘Hearing aids ‘don’t work well’ when improvement of hearing with aiding can bring improvements to quality life.’
  • ‘Tinnitus is ‘an annoyance’ when it is a warning sign of hearing loss.’

With these misconceptions in mind, they have made recommendations for us as a society and how we can be more hearing loss friendly when you meet or know a person suffering with hearing loss. Here are a few of the recommendations:

  • Find good lighting and face the person so they can easily watch you speak.
  • Speak clearly and slowly. Do not shout!
  • Speak one at a time.
  • Reduce background noise or move to a quieter setting.

From hearing our clients’ experiences, we find that they often struggle to hear and participate fully in conversation with their family at home, in social situations and with their colleagues at work. This can inevitably lead to a sense of isolation and embarrassment.

We also find our clients hearing loss can have a significant impact on employability within their service effecting promotion prospects due to medical downgrading. Or they may face difficulties in accessing certain civilian employment due to their hearing loss preventing them from accessing jobs where a hearing test is required as part of routine medical.

We believe any hearing loss is worth investigating and we support events such as World Hearing Day to raise awareness and encourage those suffering to seek help and support. If you are or either a serving personnel or ex serving personnel and suffer from an injury or illness as a result of service, such as Noise Induced Hearing Loss, and have either been medically discharged, or you or members of your family have noticed symptoms of hearing loss, you may wish to obtain legal advice in relation to making a civil claim. Our Military Service Team can advise you for free on whether you have a noise-induced hearing loss civil claim for compensation. You can even bring a claim if you have previously been rejected under the War Pension scheme or the Armed Forces Conversation Scheme.

If you have a strong case, we will represent you on a no win no fee basis.

How can Hugh James help you?

Our Military team can help you to achieve compensation for your tinnitus and will also seek to claim the cost of any treatment and equipment you require to bring your tinnitus symptoms under control.

Author bio

Francesca Bamsey joined Hugh James in February 2013. Francesca works in the Claimant Litigation Division specialising in industrial injury claims such as hearing loss claims.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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