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Sunday, 3 March marks World Hearing Day 2019 in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO). This year, WHO will draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realise that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. Checking one’s hearing would be the first step towards addressing the issue.
Hearing loss is an often-overlooked condition, with more than three million South Africans suffering from permanent, disabling hearing loss.
hearX Group, a South African tech start-up, commercialised from the University of Pretoria, has created South Africa’s very own clinically validated hearing screening app, hearZA, which is free of charge and can assist South Africans with the identification of hearing problems. hearZA was developed to be accessible to any South African with a smartphone (Android or iOS) and any pair of earphones regardless of income level. By detecting hearing loss at an early stage, hearZA can link people to their closest audiologist based on geolocation, in partnership with the South African Audiology Association and South African Speech, Language and Hearing Association.
In partnership with Vodacom, hearZA has sourced Samsung (Android) smartphones, all equipped with Vodacom SIMs. Data for each device is managed through the Vodacom Managed IoT Connectivity Platform. This means that hearZA has a single commercial arrangement for hardware and connectivity, simplifying management and delivering cost advantages. Vodacom also provides the scale needed to support rapid growth, and, for customers, the confidence that hearX Group has the backing of an industry heavyweight.
Lead inventor of hearZA Professor De Wet Swanepoel emphasises the far-reaching effects of hearing loss on various developmental milestones in children. It affects language, speech, socio-emotional well-being and cognitive processes that can pose threats to educational success. Furthermore, social isolation, depression and cognitive decline are often evident among adults suffering from hearing loss.
'With hearZA, all South Africans have access to quality hearing care from the palm of their hand, starting with a screening of their hearing status' - Prof De Wet Swanepoel
About the hearZA app
The hearZA app was developed and clinically validated by the University of Pretoria. It is the first hearing test of its kind via a smartphone. It works on both Android and iOS devices and allows participants to connect to their hearing health provider or their closest provider based on their location. With clinically validated results that can track your hearing over time and are delivered in under three minutes, there's no excuse not to check your hearing this World Hearing Day.