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November 21, 2016

120 million Europeans at risk of poorer quality of life

A small fraction of the available Bluetooth bandwidth should be reserved for the hard of hearing. If not 120 million Europeans are at risk of poorer quality of life.

120 million Europeans at risk of poorer quality of life

More than 80 million EU citizens and more than 120 million Europeans have hearing difficulties severe enough to create daily problems for them.

Hear-it AISBL, the organisation behindhear-it.org, has written a letter to a series of European and national regulatory authorities, organisations and members of the European and national parliaments where hear-it AISBL strongly recommend the reservation of a small fraction of available Bluetooth bandwidth for the hard of hearing.

When these millions of hard of hearing fellow citizens participates in meetings at work, take part in public events or want to engage in religious or cultural activities in houses of worship, museums, lectures, concert halls, cinemas, theatres or the like, they need to be able to connect their hearing aids to transmitters that enable them to hear and take part. Even to navigate in a train-, bus- or airport terminal, hard of hearing people need a connection between their hearing aid and a transmitter system.

In these cases, the hard of hearing are more and more dependent on Bluetooth technology.

Hearing aids needs Bluetooth technology

In the letter, hear-it AISBL recommends that a small fraction of available Bluetooth bandwidth is reserved and protected to ensure millions of hard of hearing citizens a better quality of life and the ability to function in society instead of making them exclusive property of large companies or specific commercial technologies.

The challenge is quite simply that hearing aids are already using Bluetooth technology for audio communication with mobile phones, personal audio, TV, schoolteachers and many other daily interactions and hearing aid users will be more and more dependent on Bluetooth technology in the future.

Interference problem

Another problem is that interference between the different Bluetooth bands used for different purposes may disturb or block Bluetooth applications utilized by hearing aids.  A special challenge is that small Bluetooth devices like hearing aids have limited possibilities to protect themselves against such interference because effective filters are impossible to apply in hearing aids due to size and power supply constraints.

Choose the right option

The choice is very simple: ensure 120 million hard of hearing Europeans a well-functioning daily life and a better quality of life or accommodate the wishes from large multinational companies and add a few million or even billions of Euro to national coffers – and risk a much higher bill for millions of citizens who may not be able to function properly in their daily lives. The hard of hearing will have a lower quality of life and may cost the same public coffers huge amounts in health and social related costs.

Hear-it AISBL strongly urge and recommend that European politicians and relevant regulatory authorities choose the first option.

Read the letter from hear-it AISBL in full length.

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