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On 3 March, Prof. De Wet Swanepoel, professor of Audiology in the Department of Speech- Language Pathology and Audiology at UP, launched an app on World Hearing Day titled hearZA. hearZA tests your hearing in less than three minutes with no costs involved and can link you to your closest healthcare provider. This national hearing test app is a world first and is a clinically valid hearing test that can be done on a smartphone. The quick digits-in-noise test provides a valuable indication of real-life hearing ability and the ability to understand speech in noise. The test needs to be taken with earphones inserted into your phone. A recorded voice lists three digits in background noise and you need to type in the digits you hear. Your hearing ability will then be based on how many of the digits you heard correctly.
Prof. Swanepoel says, “Our hope for hearZA is for every South African to take the opportunity to have a free hearing test in the comfort of their own homes. For those identified with hearing loss, we hope that through the app’s linkage to hearing health providers feature they will take up hearing care. For those who have normal hearing, our hope is that they will continue to use the app to monitor their hearing ability every year to ensure they take care of their hearing.”
According to Prof. Swanepoel, “More than three million South Africans suffer from permanent, disabling hearing loss.” Hearing loss has major effects on child development in terms of speech, language, cognition and socio-emotional well-being. This may cause struggles in educational success. Hearing loss also has striking effects on adults, such as social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia.
At the time of going to print, the app has tested 24 646 people and has identified 4 773 people with hearing impairments. hearZA is available for download on Android and iOS platforms.
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