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Sound reasons for better hearing

May 1, 2012

Sound reasons for better hearing
"The key will be to get all the devices to work together." – Prudence Allen, Director, National Centre for Audiology

Many people today are coping with hearing loss – whether born with hearing issues, coping with chronic diseases or simply dealing with degeneration from years of stress on the inner ear. No matter what the cause, suffering from decreased hearing can be a serious struggle for those affected by it. Activities such as watching TV, talking on landlines or mobile phones or using computers, tablets and other media players can be a challenge, even with the use of hearing instruments.

As one of Canada's largest graduate programs in the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology, Western's School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Faculty of Health Sciences is educating the next generation of health professionals to help empower people to communicate freely and participate actively in their lives. Also located at Western and closely affiliated with the School, is the National Centre for Audiology (NCA), which is Canada's preeminent centre of excellence in the field of hearing health research.

The Desired Sensation Level (DSL) method for hearing aid prescription and fitting, which was developed at the Centre, is used around the world and is mandated for use by audiologists in the Ontario Infant Hearing Program. Researchers continue to refine this fitting tool and develop new technologies and procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss.

Hearing health care professionals and partners in the hearing health care and communications industries from all over the world seek guidance from the NCA's researchers. It is this track record of success that makes the NCA and Western the ideal place to attract the best minds to a new Chair in Applied Hearing Science.

With new technologies, such as cell phones and voice-activated devices, there is added complexity in designing hearing instruments for hearing-impaired individuals to be able to fully use these devices

Prudence Allen, Director of the NCA and Associate Professor at the School emphasizes, "The key will be to get all the devices to work together. While audiologists understand patients' needs and engineers understand sound and software protocols, there are very few individuals that can effectively understand both. The Chair in Applied Hearing Science will contribute to better solutions that will increase the ability of individuals with hearing loss to better connect, communicate and participate in whatever life brings their way."

This article appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of Impact Western
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