New Delhi: In India, it is estimated that five-six babies out of every 1,000 have some form of hearing loss.

The numbers are increasing every single day, but the Indian government is still ignorant about the country’s most neglected form of disability — hearing impairment.

A single policy of compulsory screening of newborns can reduce the number of children with hearing impairment, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor- National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD).

Voicing his concern on the increasing prevalence rate of hearing loss amongst Indians on the occassion World Hearing Day , noted  Epidemiologist Dr Purohit told vibrant news that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 430 million people are suffering from hearing loss worldwide, and the number will go up to 700 million by 2050.

While in India as per WHO there are approximately 63 million people, who are suffering from significant auditory impairment; this places the estimated prevalence at 6.3% in Indian population.

He averred that Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) can dramatically improve the lives of people with hearing loss. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing utilize a variety of assistive technologies that provide them with improved accessibility in numerous environments. 

Assistive listening systems and devices bridge the gap between us and the sound source by eliminating the effects of distance, background noise, and reverberation.

He pointed that a person is said to have hearing loss if he/she is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing, meaning hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears. It can be mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound, and can affect one or both ears. 

He averred  that the major causes of hearing loss include congenital or early onset childhood hearing loss, chronic middle ear infections, noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, and ototoxic drugs that damage the inner ear. Hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit in humans today.

He stated that assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing is special technology built to assist those who are deaf or suffer from hearing loss. Examples of such technology include hearing aids, video relay services, tactile devices, alerting devices and technology for supporting communication. 

He averred that the deaf or hard of hearing community has a difficult to me to communicate and perceive information as compared to hearing individuals.Thus, these individuals often rely on visual and tactile mediums for receiving and communicating information.

He emphasised that the ultimate objective of all of these technological devices is improved accessibility to information most people gain through their hearing. 

He added that a cochlear implant can help a person with severe to profound hearing loss. It gives that person a way to hear when a hearing aid is not enough. Unlike a hearing aid, cochlear implants do not make sounds louder.