1. Improving diagnostics and treatment through vocational training
Health professionals are highly qualified in France. However, appropriate healthcare often remains out of reach for people with hearing loss. Fondation Pour l’Audition is contributing to a number of projects aimed at improving diagnostics and access to treatment
Speech therapists have noted the emergence of unofficial groups to share practices and discuss the difficulty of motivated young graduates to invest in treating people with hearing loss. In partnership with the French National Federation of Speech Therapists (FNO), Fondation Pour l’Audition is setting up a website to provide theoretical and practical tools for improving care for children and adults with hearing loss. Due to go live in March 2019, the site will be available to speech therapists who wish to join forces, access information, self-train and get involved in hearing health.
Fondation Pour l’Audition is supporting the ENT profession through a four-year partnership with the International Federation of ORL Societies (IFOS). A number of initiatives have been identified, including:
- International “train the trainer” courses. The aim is to create one international course per continent, tailoring content to the needs of participants. The first course in 2018, “Global hearing rehabilitation” will take place in Lima on November 11-13, 2018, in association with the Pan-American Association of Oto-Rhinolaryngology conference (https://www.ifosworld.org/2018-lima-peru). The following course is planned for March 28-30, 2019 in Dubai: https://www.ifosworld.org/2019-dubai-uae.
- Education: open-access materials. A library of free online articles is currently under development for access by all ENT specialists. This content will be available on the websites of partner learned societies through a powerful search engine
2. Supporting education and improving everyday life for people with hearing loss and their families
After the birth of a child with hearing loss, families receive a wealth of information and considerable medical follow-up. However, parent associations working in this area note the need for further information and non-medical support, particularly regarding the appropriate language and communication to use with their children. Workshops will be offered to provide tips for parents of children with hearing loss, and part of the program will be accessible upon request in French Sign Language and cued speech. This project is being carried out in cooperation with parent associations, meeting a need to bring the community together. A pilot phase will be launched in partnership with EDP-IDP (Ecole des Parents et des Educateurs d’Ile-de-France) between September 2018 and June 2019).
Involved in the City of Paris’s “L’Art Pour Grandir” program, this theater workshop project is focused on art and freedom. Fondation Pour l’Audition’s ambition is to give children a taste for theater, and through acting, help them to express themselves in words and movement, overcoming their shyness. In partnership with Théâtre de la Ville, this program will be launched in autumn 2018 at two schools teaching children with hearing loss, with two complementary initiatives involving teachers:
Arts education for students: each class will see three different shows over the year in sign language or cued speech, staged alternately at Théâtre de la Ville and the schools. Workshops will be offered before the shows to prepare the students, provide explanations and raise awareness of dramatic arts.
Acting: Théâtre de la Ville artists will train teachers from the two schools to produce a play and give acting classes to the students. These professionals will coach and train teachers throughout the year to prolong this initiative and put on their own show with the students at the end of the year.
The aim of the 10-year “Accessible Campus” program is to give all disabled students access to the university course of their choice in France. Fondation Pour l’Audition is working with Ava, which has developed a mobile app to provide live captions for lectures. The captions appear on the user’s screen in real time, enabling students to immediately correct any errors if they wish to. This app allows students to follow lectures and download comprehensive notes if necessary. Testing will take place at Paris Nanterre University in 2018-2019 with the aim of making courses available in the Parcoursup university application system the following year.
3. Encouraging innovation for people with hearing loss
To encourage initiatives to promote hearing health, the foundation encourages medical and social innovations by providing venues and resources.
Although hearing tests have been compulsory from birth since 2017, medical follow-up remains lacking in this area. In partnership with the University of Pretoria and HearX, a South African company, Fondation Pour l’Audition is developing a mobile app to detect hearing loss at every age. This test, which will promote early screening, will improve healthcare journey in conjunction with the relevant health professionals.
Fondation Pour l’Audition supports start-ups creating solutions for improving the lives of people with hearing loss by providing office space, helping them organize clinical trials and assisting their development strategies.
Two start-ups supported by the foundation are Ava France and Zeta. Ava France is introducing a clinical trial to assess the benefits of voice recognition software for physical rehabilitation after a cochlear implant, while Zeta is developing a brain training system to enable tinnitus patients to restore balance and redress abnormal brain activity.
4. Public information, awareness raising, prevention and advice on hearing health and hearing issues
Only a third of people with hearing loss over 50 have hearing aids. Further, the taboo regarding hearing deficiencies and hearing aids prevents consumers from accessing the relevant information. A number of Fondation Pour l’Audition projects are aimed at addressing this problem.
A law on the prevention of risks linked to noise and loud music was adopted in 2017. As part of its awareness and prevention efforts, Fondation Pour l’Audition aims to help venues that play loud music to apply this law, by proposing a turnkey, easy-to-use solution. The foundation wants to propose and set up rest areas, especially at summer festivals. The aim is to inform the public of the risks of prolonged exposure to loud music, offer individual protection (earplugs) and enable people to give their ears a rest. Working alongside the foundation, a student project at the ENSCI design school will create an auditory break concept with a journey combining games, education and awareness.
See the 2017 law here (in French)
Hearing loss is an invisible handicap. While more than 10% of the population have hearing difficulties, the topic remains poorly understood and overlooked in national health policies. Through a consumer awareness campaign, the foundation aims to make hearing health a priority in nationwide health programs. Initiated by Fondation Pour l’Audition, “Idéaction,” a collective of associations representing people with hearing loss, has contributed to the success of a reform in favor of 100% reimbursable health costs and will pay close attention to its implementation.
See the IDEACTION principles
The foundation helps companies raise awareness of hearing health among their employees by offering half-day or full-day events in partnership with human resources departments and occupational health authorities. We offer employees a hearing test in a noisy atmosphere. Our digit-triplets test on interactive tablets evaluates speech recognition in a variable auditory environment. During these interactions, the foundation mobilizes a health professional (e.g. an ENT intern or occupational health worker) and a representative of a patient association to inform and reassure employees, as well as distribute documentation and earplugs.