hearZA was launched on World Hearing Day in 2016 as the world’s first clinically valid hearing test on a smartphone in under three minutes.
World Hearing Day is marked annually to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care. This year’s theme is ‘Hear the future’, which is intended to draw attention to the anticipated increase in the number of people with hearing loss around the world. In light of this, on World Hearing Day a special focus will be given to preventive strategies to stem the rise and outline steps to ensure access to the necessary rehabilitation services and communication tools and products for people with hearing loss.
Called a silent epidemic, hearing loss affects one in seven persons annually. Left untreated, it has pervasive and far reaching effects on development in children including speech, language, cognition and socio-emotional well-being and is of the major barriers to educational success. In adults its effects include social isolation, increased depression and cognitive decline with a threefold increased risk of dementia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that hearing loss leads to a $750 billion annual global economic cost.
The hearZA app was developed and clinically validated by the University of Pretoria to enable the early detection of hearing loss and providing linkage to care. To date, more than 35,036 South Africans have been tested via the app, of which 11,323 were identified with hearing loss. Through the app, 1,661 patients were linked to their closest hearing health providers.
“Available on any iOS or Android device, the app is accessible to everyone in South Africa. It is simple and easy to use with any headphones and you will know your accurate results in three minutes,” said hearX Group CEO, Nic Klopper, who are the developers of the app.
“If a problem is detected, the app links people to their closest hearing health providers based on geolocation in partnership with the South African Audiology Association and South African Speech, Language and Hearing Association,” concluded Klopper.