Hearing

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What if there was a hearing aid that understood your listening intentions?

<div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="section"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column">Hearing conversations in noisy environments can be especially hard for people with impaired hearing. Unfortunately, traditional hearing aids adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to processing sounds, regardless of the listening needs of individual users. This may make listening and engaging with others more difficult. Users may also experience a lack of sound clarity and be reluctant to engage in conversations with others.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">Hearing aid manufacturer <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon</a> is taking the next important step on the journey to solve the No.1 challenge for people with hearing loss – hearing speech in noise<sup>2</sup>. With new groundbreaking 4D Sensor technology, <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-aids/products/intent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon Intent</a> is capable of understanding the user’s listening intentions by recognising what they want and need to listen to, in order to deliver truly personalised support.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The Brain And Sound</strong></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Our ears gather the sounds around us, but the true hero in sound processing is the brain, as it is constantly working to make sense of sound. Oticon uses their BrainHearing</span><sup style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">TM</sup><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> philosophy to develop technology that provides the brain with access to the full sound environment.</span></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The latest </span><a style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;" href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-loss/understand-hearing-loss/how-hearing-works" target="_blank" rel="noopener">BrainHearing<sup>TM</sup></a><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> insights reveal that people’s communication behaviour reflects their listening needs and intentions at a given moment via head and body movements. In conversation, users tend to keep their heads still to engage with a single person or move their heads in a group conversation to engage with different people. When struggling to hear what someone is saying, users are likely to lean in to listen.</span></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The technology in Oticon Intent understands and adapts to the user through sensors that monitor head and body movements, conversation activity and the acoustic environment. Oticon Intent helps users move beyond just hearing and listening, helping them to communicate and fully engage in life.</span></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Ease Of Communication</strong></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">In challenging, noisy environments, Oticon Intent makes it possible to:</span></p> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="section"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <ul> <li>Move through a crowd with seamless awareness, while orienting to the surrounding sounds.</li> <li>Begin chatting with a group of people, thanks to heightened access to voices and balanced background sounds so they are not intrusive, while still accessible.</li> <li>Start an intimate conversation with one person, easily hearing the speaker’s voice amid the noise all around.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50989" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Oticon_Intent_HA_In_Hand_Hero3_KC_1321_Expires_On_2_8_2029_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong>Engage More In Life</strong></p> <p>“If you have a hearing loss, you can actually protect your brain from cognitive decline by using active hearing aids which enable you to connect with others and let you engage in life to the fullest,” says Thomas Behrens, Vice President of Audiology at Oticon. “You can also enjoy future-proof, next- generation connectivity technology, crafted into the smallest form factor we have designed to date within this category.”</p> <p><strong>Open Up The Digital World</strong></p> <p>Offering easy connection to compatible smart devices through Bluetooth® Low Energy technology, Oticon Intent also enables users to engage in the digital world like never before. It allows a detailed, high-quality sound experience for hands-free calls and delivers direct streaming of music, audio book and much more<sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>With up to 20 hours of battery life, users will never have to worry about running out of battery. When they need a recharge, they’d simply drop the hearing aids into the charger for just 30 minutes for up to 8 hours of battery life<sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>Your hearing matters. Take a step towards better hearing by contacting your nearest <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/find-audiologist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">hearing care professional</a>. To explore this revolutionary hearing aid that helps users to engage in life like never before, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/oticon-intent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.oticon.co.nz/oticon-intent</a></p> <p>For more information and to find your nearest hearing clinic, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">oticon.co.nz</a></p> <p><em>*4D Sensor technology only available in Oticon Intent 1 &amp; 2. [</em><em>2.] Jorgensen, L., &amp; Novak, M. (2020). Factors Influencing Hearing Aid Adoption. Seminars in hearing, 41(1), 6–20. [3.] Hands-free communication is available on select devices. See which hearing aids and devices are compatible here: oticon.co.nz/compatibility. [</em><em>4.] Expected use time for rechargeable battery depends on use pattern, active feature set, hearing loss, sound environment, battery age and use of wireless accessories.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Oticon.</em></p>

Hearing

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Paul Simon reveals sad health update

<p>At 82 years of age, the great Paul Simon – one half of the iconic duo Simon & Garfunkel – has admitted to facing a new health challenge that could prove devastating to millions of fans worldwide: hearing loss.</p> <p>In a recent revelation, he spoke candidly about how this health issue has affected his performances, yet also how he's adapted in oder to continue pursuing his passion for music.</p> <p>Simon's discussion about his hearing loss comes ahead of the premiere of a two-part docuseries, <em>In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon</em>, set to air on MGM+ starting March 17. It's a timely revelation, shedding light on the personal struggles behind the legendary musician's enduring career.</p> <p>During a panel discussion, Simon disclosed the impact of his hearing loss on his recent stage experiences. While he's regained some comfort in singing and playing instruments, he noted difficulties when certain instruments overshadow his own voice.</p> <p>"If there's a drum or an electric guitar," he revealed, "it's too loud and I can't hear my voice. But when I first lost the hearing, I couldn't get – it threw me off."</p> <p>It's a frustration that resonates deeply with any performer reliant on auditory cues for their craft.</p> <p>Simon's journey with hearing loss began suddenly, with the loss predominantly affecting his left ear. In a previous interview, he described the initial frustration and annoyance at the unexplained condition, hoping it would eventually resolve itself.</p> <p>"Nobody has an explanation, so everything became more difficult," he said in a <em>Times</em> interview in May 2023. "My reaction to that was frustration and annoyance; not quite anger yet, because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself."</p> <p>Despite the challenges, he's found solace and creative expression through his daily guitar playing, using it as both a creative outlet and a source of comfort during trying times.</p> <p>Reflecting on his musical journey alongside Art Garfunkel, Simon highlighted the enduring impact of their collaboration. From their humble beginnings as schoolmates in New York to becoming one of the best-selling music acts of the 1960s and 1970s, Simon & Garfunkel's legacy is undeniable. Their timeless hits, including "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs Robinson," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.</p> <p>Despite occasional tensions and artistic differences that led to their split in 1970, Simon & Garfunkel's partnership endured, marked by intermittent reunions for select performances. Their ability to transcend personal conflicts in the pursuit of their shared musical vision speaks volumes about their dedication to their craft and the enduring power of their bond.</p> <p>While Simon's journey may have taken an unexpected turn, his musical legacy continues to shine brightly, resonating with generations past, present and future.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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The path to better hearing, today

<p>In 1902, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who would very soon become Queen Consort of the United Kingdom alongside King Edward VII, found herself enraptured by a fascinating new device that was fast becoming the talk of Europe.</p> <p>The young princess had been fitted with one of the world’s first portable electric hearing aids, and it proved to be a life-changing success.</p> <p>Back in Denmark, the impact of this event became a clarion call to one Hans Demant, a bicycle manufacturer and purveyor of sewing machines. His wife, Camilla, also suffered from severe hearing loss and so, after a determined journey to London, Hans returned with a precious electric “Acousticon”.</p> <p>Witnessing Camilla’s progress served as a source of inspiration for Hans to extend his assistance to a broader community of individuals suffering with hearing loss, and so he initiated the import of hearing devices from America. In 1904, Hans Demant founded the company that would later become known as <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/">Oticon</a>, a name now synonymous with cutting-edge hearing solutions, paving the way for the modern hearing aids we know today and bringing new-found joy to millions worldwide.</p> <h3>Hearing health</h3> <p>Hearing health is a such critical aspect of our overall well-being, yet it often goes overlooked until problems arise. In New Zealand, hearing issues affect a surprisingly large portion of the population, with a 2022 EHIMA report estimating as many as one in ten New Zealanders are living with hearing loss. Sadly, a lack of awareness can lead to irregular hear- ing check-ups, which in turn leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment.</p> <h3><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50616" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/miniRITE_R_H1-2023_RightLeft_C090ChromaBeige_LEDgreen_Speaker60_OpenBassDome_500pctSize_w_shadow_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="642" /></h3> <h3>A new world of sounds</h3> <p>A far cry from the bulky hearing aids of over a century ago that were hailed as a miracle in the press and transformed Queen Alexandra’s life, the pinnacle of today’s devices – such as <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-aids/products/real" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon Real™ hearing aids</a> – continue to change the way we experience the world of sound.</p> <p>With their advanced processing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology, Oticon Real can help get back the real sounds of life, precise and optimally balanced, whether it’s the laughter of grandchildren, musical notes or simply the rustling of leaves in the wind.</p> <p>One of the standout features of Oticon Real hearing aids is a unique technology called Deep Neural Network (DNN). This built-in intelligence has learned to recognise all types of sounds, their details, and how they should ideally sound. This means they can instantly adapt to changes, keeping you at your best wherever life takes you.</p> <p>By analysing and adjusting to your environment, Oticon Real hearing aids ensure that they provide what you need to hear. They do this by reducing background noise, which can help enhance speech comprehension and allow you to engage effortlessly in conversations, even in noisy settings.</p> <h3>Connection is key</h3> <p>In today’s digital age, connectivity is paramount, and Oticon Real hearing aids certainly rise to the challenge, offering seamless connectivity to compatible* smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. You can effortlessly stream phone calls, music and other audio directly to your hearing aids, vastly enhancing your listening experience.</p> <h3><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50617" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/Oticon_Real_Still_Life_miniRITE_R_Wallet_JBS_24873_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="863" /></h3> <h3>Improved quality of life</h3> <p>Perhaps the most significant benefit of Oticon Real hearing aids is their positive impact on your quality of life. Improved hearing can lead to increased social engagement, better relationships and enhanced overall well-being. With the help of Oticon Real, you can participate more actively in social gatherings, make the most of your favourite activities and feel more connected to the world around you.</p> <p>Oticon Real hearing aids aren’t just devices; they are a life-changing gift that allow you to reconnect with the sounds and people you love. No longer are they fit just for a queen; they are readily available to anyone with the need and the longing to be truly present for life’s most cherished moments.</p> <p><em>For more information and to find your nearest hearing clinic, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">oticon.co.nz</a></em></p> <p><em>*For information on hearing aid and device compatibility, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/compatibility" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.oticon.co.nz/compatibility</a></em></p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50618" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/Oticon_Real_miniRITE_R_9_colors_lineup_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="125" /></p> <p><em>All images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Oticon.</em></p>

Hearing

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What to do if your hearing aids get wet

<p>Like most electronic devices hearing aids should be kept clear of water but if you do happen to forget to take them off before showering or jumping in the pool, here’s what you should do if your aids get wet.</p> <p>The first step is to switch off your hearing aids and remove the battery. Keeping a wet battery inside your aid can further damage the device so it’s best to throw out waterlogged batteries. However, if that’s not an option carefully dry the battery with a cloth. For the hearing aids, here are some home methods to drying them:</p> <ul> <li>Shake the hearing aids with the battery compartment open to remove any excess water. Leave aids on newspaper to air dry indoors for at least a day.</li> <li>Place wet hearing aids near a lamp can speed up drying process, but do not place too close to light bulb as too much heat can damaged the device.</li> <li>Stick hearing aids into a container of uncooked rice or silica gel. Seal container and leave overnight. Both rice and silica gel can work as a dehumidifier and soak up water.</li> <li>Use a fan or hairdryer on the lowest setting. Only use hairdryer if it has a “cool” setting.</li> <li>Do not ever use high heat to dry the aids like an oven or microwave.</li> </ul> <p>If the above suggestions do not work, contact your hearing aid provider. Your hearing aids aren’t necessarily damaged beyond repair and your hearing aid provider can talk to you about options.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Say what? Here’s why you should check your hearing this September

<p dir="ltr">With Women’s Health Week held every September, it offers us a chance to really focus on the different aspects of our health that we might not think about in our day-to-day lives.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Lauren McNee, a clinical trainer and audiologist at Audika, this week provides the opportunity to check in with something many of us ignore: hearing loss.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Overall, Australians are not taking action to look after their hearing, with only one in five planning a hearing test in the next 12 months - compared to 39 percent who intend to get an eye test in the same period,” she tells <em>OverSixty</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over 1.5 billion people live with some form of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound loss that can affect one or both of your ears.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though we might not think about it all that much, we rely on our ability to hear to interact with the world around us, with the <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/hearing-loss#tab=tab_1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">World Health Organisation</a> reporting that hearing loss can result in social isolation, loneliness and frustration, as well as $US 980 billion cost to the global economy each year.</p> <p dir="ltr">McNee says that taking the chance to check up on our ear health is particularly important as we age too, and should be among the various tests and check-ups we do to monitor our health.</p> <p dir="ltr">As we age, most of us will lose our hearing in some way, in a condition called presbycusis. According to the <a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National Institue on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders</a>, most of us will experience a combination of noise-induced hearing loss - from listening to sounds that are too loud or last too long - as well as age-related hearing loss which can occur because of changes to our inner ear.</p> <p dir="ltr">For women, McNee says that those with hearing loss are <a href="http://archotol.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1835392">more likely to suffer from depression</a> - but there are some key signs to look out for to catch hearing loss early.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Some key signs to look for include difficulty following conversations, phone conversations may be unclear, people seem to be mumbling, difficulty locating where sounds are coming from, ringing or buzzing in the ears, or even finding that you have to keep turning up the volume on the TV or radio,” she explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When a person’s communication becomes limited due to hearing loss, this can result in withdrawal from social activities and can lead to isolation – which we know can be a gateway to experiencing symptoms of depression.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Who’s at risk of hearing loss?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Though McNee says hearing loss “doesn’t discriminate”, there are some factors that can increase your risk of losing your hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It depends on a few factors, including your age and risk factors such as family history, occupation, and any pre-existing conditions like diabetes – which is known to be linked to hearing loss,” McNee explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether our hearing loss is due to exposure or age, the damage and changes in our ears can’t be reversed.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, there are ways to protect your ears from other causes of hearing loss and reduce your risk of further loss.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you are exposed to loud noises regularly, like renovations, loud music or engines,  make sure you are taking steps to protect your ears at those times by wearing appropriate hearing protection,” McNee suggests.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you like to listen to music, especially with ear bud headphones, make sure the volume is such that you can still hear others around you or keep listening time down.”</p> <p dir="ltr">McNee also suggests checking your hearing regularly, and that an annual check-up if you’re over the age 50 is best.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We usually recommend that people that aren’t exhibiting hearing loss, but are over the age of 50, get screened once a year just to be safe,” McNee says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you are at high-risk of hearing loss, or you are exhibiting symptoms, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Early detection can help reduce the risk of other related conditions such as depression.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily, checking your hearing is a pretty quick and simple process, with tests offered in-person and online for free.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-d617c227-7fff-f427-1c2a-dd98fef58d30"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Is your dizziness caused by ear problems?

<p>There are many causes to dizziness such as low blood pressure or dehydration, but did you know ear problems are also one of them? This occurs because the balance organ is actually located in part of the inner ear, although our sense of balance actually comes from the coordination of the balance organ, the visual system and the muscles in the body. If you’ve experienced a spinning sensation coupled with decreased hearing or ringing in the ears, your dizziness might be caused by an ear disorder. You should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.</p> <p>The most common ear-related causes of dizziness include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo –</strong> This is a common inner-ear disorder among older people, where crystals normally located in the inner ear become dislodged. As your head moves, the crystals move causing dizziness.</li> <li><strong>Labyrinthitis –</strong> An ear disorder that involves inflammation of the middle ear. It generally occurs after a viral infection.</li> <li><strong>Meniere's disease –</strong> This is an inner ear disorder that causes severe hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness.</li> <li><strong>Acoustic neuroma –</strong> It is a non-cancerous tumour of the ear that causes ringing in the ears, hearing loss and balance problems.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><em><strong><a href="/health/hearing/2015/09/antibiotics-linked-to-hearing-loss/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Certain antibiotics linked to hearing loss</span></a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><a href="/health/hearing/2015/09/things-hearing-impaired-find-annoying/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">10 commandments the hard of hearing wish you’d follow</span></a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><a href="/health/hearing/2015/09/spotify-and-starkey-hearing-foundation-ad/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Emotional video of three deaf people hearing family for first time</span></a></strong></em></p>

Hearing

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Why you should leave earwax alone

<p>Although it is widely popular and irresistible, inserting cotton-tipped swabs into your ears has been strongly discouraged by health experts. Here’s why you should reconsider before you reach for cotton swaps every day.</p> <p><strong>1. Earwax is not a sign of poor hygiene</strong></p> <p>The medical term for earwax is cerumen and it has natural benefits for your ears. Cerumen is a natural moisturiser and prevents the skin inside the ear from drying out. It also traps dirt from reaching deep inside the ear canal, absorbs dead skin cells and prevents bacteria from reaching the inner ear.</p> <p>Everyone produces a different amount of earwax depending on factors such as ethnicity, age, environment and diet. It is not a sign that you have bad hygiene.</p> <p><strong>2. It can be harmful</strong></p> <p>Inserting cotton swabs into your ear can damage the ear canal or eardrum. It can also push earwax further into the canal and this can cause a feeling of pressure on the ear and diminished hearing. Clumps of ear wax pushed down near the eardrum can also lead to painful ear infections.</p> <p><strong>3. It’s unnecessary</strong></p> <p>The ear self-cleans itself so not routine maintenance is required. Earwax is produced within the ear canal and naturally migrates from inside to outside. For those who make more earwax than the average person or if the earwax becomes hard and dry, seeing a doctor is your best option.</p> <p>Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter ear drops that can soften earwax and allow it to exit your ear with ease. They may also look inside your ear and use instruments specifically designed to remove earwax. </p>

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Why some TV dialogue is so hard to hear

<p><em><strong>Lauren Ward is a Doctoral researcher in Audio Engineering and General Sir John Monash Scholar the University of Salford.</strong></em></p> <p>Within 24 hours of the first episode of wartime drama SS-GB being broadcast <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-39038406" target="_blank">the BBC received 100 complaints</a></strong></span>. Viewers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations with the sound. Many highlighted their annoyance that SS-GB was just the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-02-23/why-does-yet-another-tv-drama-have-mumbling-dialogue--and-whats-the-solution" target="_blank">latest drama to be plagued with audibility problems</a></strong></span>. The debate has stretched to the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39489713" target="_blank">House of Lords</a></strong></span>, with peers asking whether consultation with broadcasters is needed to address the issue.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Why do dramas on the BBC always mean mumbling. Couldn't watch Taboo or SS-GB without subtitles and the volume way up.</p> — Charlotte Gibbons (@C_Gibbons2005) <a href="https://twitter.com/C_Gibbons2005/status/833567761519493120">February 20, 2017</a></blockquote> <p>So is making television sound understandable as simple as asking actors to speak up? The short answer is: no. Clean recordings and well enunciated speech will always make dialogue easier to understand. However, the relationship between the audio from our television and what we understand as speech is much more complex.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/shortcuts/2017/feb/20/flatscreen-tvs-actors-or-realism-whats-to-blame-for-ss-gbs-mumbling-problem" target="_blank">Many news sources</a></strong></span> and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2017-04-04/debates/F84C55A0-3D8B-41F7-A19C-CC216F8C7B0B/TelevisionBroadcastsAudibility" target="_blank">some of the Lords</a></strong></span> blamed <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/20/ss-gb-bbc-re-examine-sound-yet-mumbling-complaints/" target="_blank">“modern flat televisions which place more emphasis on picture quality”</a></strong></span> than sound quality.</p> <p>There is some evidence to support this idea. A recent study <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.aes.org/e-lib/inst/browse.cfm?elib=18436" target="_blank">investigating how television sets effect speech intelligibility</a></strong></span> showed the frequency responses (how loud different frequencies are, relative to each other) in different television sets differed by 10 to 20 decibels. This means the low pitched, rumbling background sounds might be made louder than intended, while the higher pitched voices stay the same volume. This issue is made worse by locating the speakers in the television sets so they point downwards or even backwards.</p> <p>Speaker quality is likely a contributing factor but not all television programmes have suffered the same complaints as SS-GB. Assuming that viewers did not exclusively watch SS-GB with poor quality television speakers, this means there are other factors at play.</p> <p><strong>Have I heard this before?</strong></p> <p>Humans are quite good at understanding speech in challenging or noisy situations. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982209016807" target="_blank">Research</a></strong></span> indicates personal and psychological factors play a role in how well we are able to do this. Similarly, these factors may affect how we hear dialogue on television.</p> <p>For example, you might find it easy to understand Bart and Homer’s banter in your 500th episode of The Simpsons while multitasking on Twitter and making a cuppa. But when the first episode of the newest crime drama comes on, you may find that you have to sit down and pay full attention to understand the speech. How well we understand speech is effected by whether we have heard a talker, a particular accent or what they are talking about before.</p> <p>The effect of a familiar speaker on how well we understand speech is termed the “Familiar Talker Advantage”. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24131605" target="_blank">Studies have shown</a></strong></span> that we are able to understand our spouse’s voice (a highly familiar voice) better than unfamiliar voices. Even voices we have <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081685/" target="_blank">only recently heard</a></strong></span> are easier to understand than those we are completely unfamiliar with.</p> <p>How predictable the content of the speech is also effects how easily we understand it. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.381436" target="_blank">It has been well established</a></strong></span> that when we have language or content cues in the speech, we recognise speech twice as accurately, even in the most challenging of listening situations. If we hear Homer Simpson’s brazen American voice exclaiming “Who ate all the …”, our brains are likely to insert the missing word as “doughnut”, not “bell peppers”. And we probably wouldn’t even notice we were doing it.</p> <p>Happy Valley, another drama which had similar complaints to SS-GB, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/bbc-bosses-blame-accents-yet-7381498" target="_blank">had accents pointed to as the issue</a></strong></span>. On that occasion, the Lords criticised “indecipherable regional accents”. It has been shown, for American English, that <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2744323/" target="_blank">some accents are generally harder to understand than others</a></strong></span> regardless of your own accent. Though when hearing is greatly challenged by competing noise, speech in your own accent is easier to understand.</p> <p>Familiarity with an actor’s voice, their accent and what they may be speaking about changes our perception of the clarity of dialogue. This does not solve the issue of audibility more generally though.</p> <p><strong>I’m no expert, but I know what I like</strong></p> <p>Part of what makes the problem of audible speech on television difficult to solve is that there is no consensus on what “good sound” sounds like. Even among the barrage of complaints about SS-GB, some found no issue with the dialogue.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Watched SS-GB. No one mumbled. There was some bigly breathy talking going on, but no mumbles. Subtitles, headphones or better TV.</p> — Chris Bennion (@PigLimbedViking) <a href="https://twitter.com/PigLimbedViking/status/833977710682763264">February 21, 2017</a></blockquote> <p>Similar patterns have been seen in previous research by the BBC. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications/whitepaper272" target="_blank">An experimental football broadcast by the BBC</a></strong></span> in 2013 allowed viewers to adjust the volume of the crowd compared with the commentary. While most users (77%) agreed that they liked the personalised broadcast, they differed in their preferences. Some balanced commentary and crowd noise while others preferred all crowd noise or all commentary.</p> <p>The technology which allowed the user to alter the sound mix in the 2013 experiment is called <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2013/05/object-based-approach-to-broadcasting" target="_blank">object based broadcasting</a></strong></span>. In the future, this may allow viewers to alter the levels of different segments of the broadcast based on their preference or their needs on their own televisions. Studies have shown that using the technology in this way can <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7270767/" target="_blank">improve speech intelligibility</a></strong></span>. It has also been <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications/whitepaper324" target="_blank">proposed by the BBC</a></strong></span> as a way forward for improving television sound for the hard of hearing.</p> <p>The many factors effecting speech intelligibility mean that one particular sound mix will rarely make everyone happy. The provision of “personalisable” broadcast mixes, using object based broadcasting, may be the solution.</p> <p><em>Written by Lauren Ward. First appeared on <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation.</a></span></strong></em><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/75423/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></p>

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The trials and tribulations of getting mum used to her new hearing aids

<p><em><strong>Celena Ross’s plans to ramp up her celebrant businesses were compromised when she found herself part of the sandwich generation of caring for an elderly mother and grandchildren. Struggling with the unexpected hours of caring and faced with a loss of identity in her transition to semi-retirement, Celena established her website</strong> <a href="http://retireematters.com.au/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Retiree Matter</span><span style="text-decoration: underline;">s</span></strong></a> <strong>to assist other corporate women.</strong></em></p> <p>Depressed and increasingly social isolated, mum finally received some good news – my request for her new hearing aids had been approved. This was a shock to us as it was approved three years earlier than the standard pensioner replacement time of five years.</p> <p><strong>Day 1</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, on the day of the hearing aid appointment, I was still suffering from dizziness, brought about according to my doctor from an intense three months of caring for mum after she had had a fall. Instead, my 40-year-old son took his granny and returned her to my place all smiles.</p> <p>Wearing the small microphone shaped like a USB, clipped onto our tops, mum could hear us when she was in the kitchen and we went into the loungeroom. Again, with it clipped on my son who tends to mumble at times, she could hear him clearly. Placing the device in front of the TV, for the first time in years mum could hear the TV. She could even hear it without the USB microphone device, just with her new hearing aids.</p> <p>It was smiles, high-fives and happy times.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.oversixty.com.au/health/hearing/2016/10/celena-ross-on-looking-after-her-hard-of-hearing-mother/" target="_blank">Gone will be the days of saying “Whatcha Say?”</a></strong></span>and then hanging up on the phone because she can’t hear.</p> <p><strong>Day 2</strong></p> <p>I went to Mum’s to drop off some shopping and check up on her but there was a problem, she couldn’t hear the TV. She was pushing volume buttons up and down on the remote device that ‘talks’ via Bluetooth to the USB microphone. “Stop,” I explained. It was the TV remote she needed to push as she had it on silent!  I explained with the new hearing aids and devices she could have it on at a level that I could sit and listen to the TV with her.</p> <p>I wrote out very simplified instructions regarding how the remote device she wore around her neck, ‘talked’ to the USB microphone.</p> <p><em>No light = OFF</em></p> <p><em>Green light = ON</em></p> <p><em>Blue Light – Bluetooth connected – the devices could ‘talk’ to each other</em></p> <p><em>Red Light – Turning Off (then would have no light).</em></p> <p>After a couple of practise runs she understood. Mum was planning on taking it to cards and was going to clip the USB to the side of her little water bottle cover.</p> <p><strong>Day 3</strong></p> <p>I rung mum to let her know what time my husband and I will pick her up to take her out for lunch as we normally do each Sunday.</p> <p>“How did you go yesterday at cards with your hearing aids and the USB microphone?” I asked.</p> <p>“I lost it,” she replied. “I lost the microphone. I think it might have been caught up at the end, in the tablecloths, or card packs when it was all been packed up.”</p> <p>I rang the card organiser and told her but they didn’t see it anywhere. My husband and I went to the retirement village to look for her hearing aid. My husband retraces the road, path, and into the centre where she played cards at the retirement village.  He looks in drains, curbs, driveway ramps but there was no sign of it. I look in her two handbags, purse, zip compartments, but again there was no sign of it. I even look all over her scooter.</p> <p>“Oh,” she said. “When I came back the scooter was extra noisy. I think something must have been misplaced when I went over the road bumps.” She added, “There is something wrong with the phone ringing volume. I could only hear it, because I was standing next to it.”</p> <p>My husband walks into her room and within seconds finds the USB microphone in front of the TV. </p> <p>“I thought that you said you left it in the centre yesterday afternoon?” I asked.</p> <p>“Oh,” says mum. “You found it – where was it?”</p> <p>“In front of the TV,” I reply.</p> <p>“Oh, well I can’t remember putting it there. I must have put it there when I came back and forgot.”</p> <p>“Anyway,” she added. “It doesn’t work. It’s useless, I can’t hear the TV.”</p> <p>I look at the device. “That is because it is turned off,” I say calmly. “You have to turn this on and the remote device, where are the sheet of instructions? I wrote out about the colours!”</p> <p>I set her hearing aid up again and we test it. Everything works fine so off we go to lunch. My son clips the USB onto his shirt and yes, granny can hear him.</p> <p>Then. “Oh, the background noise is so noisy, ” said mum.</p> <p>“Stand up and look behind you – there is nothing there!” I respond.</p> <p>Mum looks, “Well there is loud background noise.” </p> <p>“That is just the general noise of the RSL lunch area. Your brain has to readjust and get used to been able to hear again.”</p> <p>Mum goes to the loo, when she comes back she says, “Oh the toilet is so loud and noisy.”</p> <p>Great her new hearing aids are working – they might need the volume adjusted. Mind you mum has pushed volumes up and down so much since the audiologist had set them.</p> <p>Lunch over – mum heads into the pokies to play her $5 at 1 or 5 cents a push. She is very happy. She can hear and she wins $5!</p> <p><strong>Day 5</strong></p> <p>After two days of some busyness caring for hubby who had an eye operation, I finally get time to ring mum. Without enquiring how my hubby is – who does so much for her also – mum says, “I want you to take the hearing aids and everything back. They are too noisy. The microphone doesn’t work. The volume of everything is too loud – to much background noise.”</p> <p>I try and explain that the audiologist said it will take some time, to readjust to hearing and to preserve.</p> <p>Mum replies dogmatically and emphasising her words, “I SAID TAKE THEM BACK. I DON’T WANT THEM. THEY ARE TOO NOISY AND DON’T WORK.”</p> <p>Mum explained that she spoke to another woman who had something similar – and how she stopped using them and reverted to her old hearing aids.</p> <p>Mum says she has packed everything back into the box and that I am to come and pick them up and take them back. Mum has the Bluetooth remote and USB microphone on trial for just over a fortnight before paying $550 for those – the hearing aids are free replacements. Remember, because she was crying from depression with her social isolation from not been able to hear and people ignoring her.</p> <p>I try to explain it is like rehab after a hip operation. You have to keep working at the exercise for improvement. Same with the hearing aids, you just have to keep wearing them, persevere to get used to them and retrain the brain.</p> <p>Mum replies, that there are at least five deaf people at the RSL cards and none of them have a remote device or microphone. Well I reply aren’t you lucky you do have these to help you with your hearing.</p> <p>“I don’t want them. I am using my old hearing aids. I want you to TAKE IT ALL BACK,” she says.</p> <p>I respond, “I can’t hear you. Whatcha say?” I hang up.</p> <p>It is time for a Bailey’s on the rocks!  Time is 9.30am.</p> <p><em>Follow Celena Ross on <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/Retireematters/" target="_blank">Facebook here.</a></span></strong></em></p>

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6 famous people with hearing loss

<p>Whether someone is born with hearing loss or encounters it later in life, it provides difficulties and challenges that many people will never understand. These inspirational people have gone down in history for their successes despite battling hearing loss.</p> <p><strong>1. Ludwig van Beethoven</strong></p> <p>At the age of 26, Beethoven began to lose his hearing and at the age of 44 he was almost completely deaf. Beethoven continued to compose music as his hearing declined and even when he was deaf. One of Beethoven’s greatest accomplishments during the time he had lost his hearing was the composition of the Ninth Symphony which was first performed in 1824.</p> <p><strong>2. Thomas Edison</strong></p> <p>Due to having scarlet fever as a young boy, Thomas Edison suffered from severe hearing problems. He referred to himself as deaf but he also believed his lack of hearing helped him to be a better scientist.</p> <p><strong>3. Marlee Matlin</strong></p> <p>When she was only 18 months old Marlee became deaf. In 1986, she won an Academy Award for her performance in <em>Children of a Lesser God</em>.</p> <p><strong>4. Helen Keller</strong></p> <p>Helen lost her sight and hearing at the tender age of 19 months old. An illness she contracted was the cause of her blindness and deafness. Helen Keller became a world-famous author, activist and lecturer.</p> <p><strong>5. Linda Bove</strong></p> <p>Linda Bove, who was an actress on <em>Sesame Street</em>, introduced children to sign language in her role as Linda the Librarian. She played her role from 1971 to 2003 and introduced children to issues surrounding the deaf community.</p> <p><strong>6. Gertrude Ederle</strong></p> <p>In 1926, Gertrude became deaf after she swam the English Channel. The American swimmer had poor hearing as a young girl due to contracting measles. </p>

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How to limit the volume on children’s devices

<p>As more children spend their free time on their technological devices, there is an increase in children who are engaging in unsafe listening practices. It is important to make sure children’s hearing is protected as the impact of blasting sound in their ears can stay with them for the rest of their lives. These tips will show you how you can use different features on devices to limit the volume your grandchild will have. Generally, it is recommended to set the maximum value at 60 per cent as this is the highest volume that is typically safe.</p> <p><strong>1.  Set restrictions on an iPhone or iPad</strong></p> <p>If you grandchild uses an Apple device, then you can use the ‘restrictions’ feature to limit the volume. To set the volume restriction go to ‘Settings’ on the device and you will be able to secure your change with a password. To learn how to set up the volume restriction in detail, <a href="https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201304" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">click here</span></strong></a>.</p> <p>You can also set a maximum volume restriction in Music settings which does not require a parental lock password to do so.</p> <p><strong>2. Use an app to limit Android volumes</strong></p> <p>Android devices do not have a built-in volume control but there are apps that you can download in the Google Play Store that will limit maximum volume. Try searching ‘volume limiter for kids’ and various options will appear. Some apps have the parental lock option and others don’t so pick the app based on your preference.</p> <p><strong>3. Set a maximum volume in Google chrome</strong></p> <p>If your grandchildren are on the internet on a Chrome browser, then you can limit the volume for the videos and music they listen to. To set this feature up, you create a ‘supervised user’. The instructions to set this feature up can be found in <a href="https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/3463947?hl=en" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Chrome help</span></strong></a>.</p> <p><strong>4. Check your television for parental volume controls</strong></p> <p>If you have a fairly modern television then you might have a maximum volume feature in the parental control settings. If you can’t find the settings on your TV menu then you can search the manual for directions. A quick way to search through the manual is to see if the manual is available online and then use Control+F within the manual to search for ‘volume’ or ‘sound control’.</p> <p><strong>5. Get the right headphones</strong></p> <p>Although earbud headphones are a popular headphone option, over-the-ear headphones are safer. Over-the-ear headphones sit further from the eardrum and are even more comfortable for little ears. There are also headphones that don’t play sounds that are louder than what is considered safe.</p> <p><strong>6. Limit your PC’s application volume</strong></p> <p>If your grandchild is using a PC, go to the ‘Volume mixer’ settings. You can access the settings by going to ‘control panel’ and clicking on ‘adjust system volume’. Set the device volume to 100% buy adjust the applications setting to the maximum volume you want. Once you have done this, the speakers volume range will be limited.</p> <p>How do you monitor the safety of children’s hearing? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

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Hope for tinnitus sufferers

<p>You may be familiar with the experience of a ringing sensation in your ears after a night out enjoying some good music. Perhaps you’ve never given it a second thought as the sound normally disappears on its own. But what if you were to wake up in the morning and still have the ringing in your ears? And what if the ringing never stopped?</p> <p>This is <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tinnitus/Pages/Introduction.aspx" target="_blank">tinnitus</a></strong></span> – better described as the phantom perception of sound. Tinnitus affects 10 to 15 per cent of the adult population worldwide and there are currently no drug therapies available on the market. The reason for this is a limited understanding of how tinnitus sets in and what prevents it from going away.</p> <p>My work at the University of Leicester is focused on filling in the current knowledge gaps – and Dr Thomas Tagoe, one of my former PhD students, funded by Action on Hearing Loss, made some <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014488617300456" target="_blank">exciting discoveries</a></strong></span> which were recently published in The Journal of Experimental Neurology. The discovery is not a magic pill against tinnitus, but reveals some of the mechanisms underlying its development and provides avenues for possible treatment.</p> <p><strong>Phantom sounds</strong></p> <p>The generation and transmission of signals in the brain are subject to constant changes. In particular, signals can be boosted or tuned down in a process known as “plasticity”. When signals are boosted, it is referred to as “long-term potentiation”, a process which is critical in our ability to learn and store memories.</p> <p>Knowing that tinnitus is a phantom sound which does not exist in the outside world but is perceived, suggests that somewhere in the brain there are cells generating a false signal in response to a sound which does not exist. Studies show that auditory signals are transmitted from the cochlea, in the inner ear, to a brain structure called the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.cochlea.eu/en/auditory-brain" target="_blank">dorsal cochlear nucleus</a></strong></span>. So in our quest to find out how tinnitus sets in and what prevents it from going away, this is where we started: in the dorsal cochlear nucleus.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="499" height="280" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/35880/1_499x280.jpg" alt="1 (174)"/></p> <p>Cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus are capable of boosting their signals. Based on previous results Thomas had obtained in the lab, we had good reason to believe that this ability could be compromised after multiple exposures to loud sound. If true, this would be strong evidence implicating the dorsal cochlear nucleus as the false signal generator, making it a target for therapeutic intervention.</p> <p>To test this out, we designed a research programme which would induce tinnitus in an animal model. This involved creating an experience of multiple exposures to loud sound, testing for limitations in the signal boosting capacity and finally assessing whether this is pivotal in the generation of the false auditory signal called tinnitus.</p> <p>Our suspicions were right: exposure to loud sound prevented the dorsal cochlear nucleus from boosting its incoming signals. What was even more interesting was that loud sound exposure turned up the dials, saturated the signal transmission and left no more room to boost the signal any further. Exposure to loud sound therefore altered brain plasticity, leaving the dorsal cochlear nucleus in a compromised state.</p> <p><strong>What triggers tinnitus?</strong></p> <p>First, there is an exposure to loud sound – either instantly from an explosion or multiples experiences over a long period of time. This induces a temporary period of hearing loss or a “hard-of-hearing” experience, where the whole world appears to have turned down its volume. During this period, cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus try to compensate for this low surrounding volume by boosting their signal.</p> <p>This intervention is successful, but by the time the temporary hearing loss disappears, the signal boost has been stored as a “memory” in the dorsal cochlear nucleus, a memory which is not easily forgotten. The consequences of this scenario is tinnitus, a false signal generation which is perceived in the absence of an external stimulus. In brief, we have shown that tinnitus is a state of continuous painful learning.</p> <p>We showed that tinnitus sets in at a specific sound frequency, after the experience of loud sound exposure. Better yet, we showed that a high magnesium diet can prevent the dorsal cochlear nucleus from turning the dials all the way up and locking this in place as a memory. With that intervention, we were able to prevent the subsequent perception of tinnitus.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="265" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/35882/2_500x265.jpg" alt="2 (172)"/></p> <p>The next step is to identify drugs which can prevent the development of tinnitus and also reverse it. We now have a good starting point and are looking for drugs which can elevate magnesium concentration in the brain or mimic its action. Until this work is complete, however, we’ll have to rely on the tried and tested safeguards – limiting noise exposure or wearing ear protection.</p> <p><em>Written by Martine Hamann. First appeared on <a href="http://theconversation.com/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>. </em></p>

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This romantic short film is actually a hearing test in disguise

<p>A short film called <em>Does Love Last Forever?</em> was shown to cinemagoers who were waiting to watch movie Lion.</p> <p>The short film, which is created CHE Proximity and Cochlear Limited, is a love story that follows a couple over four decades.</p> <p>This innovative film also doubles as a hearing test and those with hearing difficulties will finish the film believing the ending is different to those who do not have hearing issues.</p> <p>For those whose hearing is fine, the couple’s relationship appears to be resilient throughout the decades but for those who have hearing difficulties, the couple’s ending is much different.</p> <p>The film is able to create these strikingly different endings by using ambiguous body language, hiding the ability to lip read characters and using ambient sounds to drown out the voice frequencies. </p> <p>On average, people can delay seeking help from their hearing loss to up six years once they realise they are having hearing difficulties.</p> <p>The film was created as a unique way to show people the necessity of getting their hearing tested if they do suffer from hearing loss.</p> <p>General Manager Australia and New Zealand Cochlear, Shaun Han said, “We know how many precious things are lost for those people living with hearing loss.”</p> <p>“People lose their connection to loved ones, friendships, their career, hobbies and self-esteem. By creating something unique like the hearing test in disguise, we’re hoping to get Australians talking and taking action on hearing loss, and to share the film with people they love.”</p> <p>To watch the short film <em>Does Love Last Forever</em> <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://doeslovelastforever.com/" target="_blank">click here.</a></span></strong></p> <p>What ending did you hear in the short film? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

Hearing