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July 19, 2006

An ear for people with hearing loss

One in five Austrians suffer from some kind of hearing damage. A program was established to help hearing impaired Austrians to adapt.

„From Ear to Ear, on the Road to Better Hearing” is the title of a two year old project to perform hearing screening in Austrian workplaces. The result: 19 percent of working Austrians have been found to suffer from hearing loss.

”Hearing problems are widely underestimated. Many people hide their hearing problem, or they learn to live with their hearing loss. For the longest time they say nothing abiout because they are ashamed and they think they will just get along,” said Johann Marckhgott of the Austrian association for hearing impaired people, Österreichischer Schwerhörigenbund.

Support and advice

The people behind ”From Ear to Ear” include people with hearing loss, their relatives, and people who give advice to hearing impaired people.

Special needs of the hearing impaired individual are identified in an initial interview. Available technical devices are discussed along with strategies for coping. Those who wish to remain anonymous may receive counseling without disclosing their names.

The ”From Ear to Ear” team provides ideas for the hearing impaired individual on how to hear better at home and in the workplace. The team also provides advice directly to the employers.

In addition, the programme provides for follow-up care during the most difficult time when the hearing impaired individuals learn to adapt to their hearing loss.

„At work, in particular, the mental and physical well-being is of the utmost importance,” explained Birgit Laux-Flajs, herself a hearing loss sufferer.

If a company decides to take measures to better accomodate hearing impaired employees in the workplace the cost is covered by federal money and funds from the European Social Foundation.

The Austrian project was initiated in 2003 with support from the social administration of Upper Austria.

Sources: OÖNachrichten, 15.03.2006 and www.vonohrzuohr.or.at

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