Shattering disability stigma for World Hearing Day with Israeli BeHear technology enabling self-administered hearing screening
A.R.M. and BeKol leverage BeHear’s innovative hearing check kiosks to raise hearing health awareness and accessibility
A special initiative by A.R.M. Medical Center, experts in Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck, and Oral and Maxillofacial surgery; BeKol, the organization representing the hard of hearing in Israel; and BeHear by Alango Technologies is designed to shatter disability stigma while promoting hearing health awareness and accessibility.
Imagine a world where disabilities are addressed without stigma. Imagine a world where all people are treated with dignity and respect and can easily implement technological solutions without experiencing shame. While this seems like an obvious and morally imperative goal, when it comes to hearing health there is a painful dissonance between its importance and the general levels of awareness and accessibility. Worst of all, there is a high level of social stigma attached to hearing as a disability, as if it is indicative of being “broken”, old, or damaged, as well as the negative and completely inappropriate association of cognitive incapacity.
World Hearing Day is an annual global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), designed to raise awareness and promote hearing care at community and national levels across the world. This year’s theme “Hearing care for ALL! Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate.” fits perfectly with the A.R.M.-BeKol-BeHear initiative to provide free, accessible hearing screening.
Using equipment donated by Alango to BeKol, free access will be provided to BeHear’s hearing check kiosks located at the A.R.M. Medical Center in Assuta Hospital, Tel Aviv. The innovative kiosks offer a unique balance of user-independence with precision results, testing in a quick and simple process that anyone can undertake without the help of a healthcare professional. The system guides the user through a 5-minute hearing assessment using an intuitive interface available in English, Hebrew, Russian, and Arabic. Results are received on the spot and can be sent to the user’s email. The user is then invited to compare “what they hear” with “what they could be hearing” once BeHear’s advanced hearing enhancement technology is applied to the sound they hear.
“Increasing visibility raises acceptance and reduces social stigma.” states Dr. Alexander Goldin, Founder and CEO of Alango Technologies. “There is no excuse for people to be deterred from attaining the hearing care they need due to complicated bureaucracy, fear of going for screening, or high costs. We hope that through the donation of our kiosks to Bekol and the screenings that will take place, many people will be empowered to take control of their hearing health and address any issues they might have sooner, rather than later. People tend to like playing with gadgets so many will find that our hearing assessment is actually an interesting and engaging experience.”
“We at A.R.M. Medical Center work hard to raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis of hearing loss and the need for appropriate and customized treatment,” states Prof. Michal Lunz, Director of the Department of Ear Surgery and Hearing Rehabilitation, A.R.M. “Each year, in conjunction with World Hearing Day, we hold a special week-long event. We invite the public to come and get tested by A.R.M.’s team of experts and receive the best diagnosis and consulting, all at no cost, in order to make good hearing health accessible to everyone.”
BeKol Executive Director Damian Kelman explains, “Bekol constantly strives to raise awareness and increase accessibility to good hearing health. World Hearing Day 2021 marks a unique opportunity to enhance Bekol’s efforts to provide free hearing screenings to the general population and to elderly adults in particular. With the newly and highly appreciated addition of BeHear kiosks to our centers and hearing mobile stations, we at Bekol look forward to expanding and maximizing the impact of our screening program throughout the year as well. Increasing testing availability and simplifying the process is a critical part of disrupting the barriers to hearing health.”
Free screenings using the Hearing Check Kiosks will take place over the course of two days (March 8 & March 10). The appointments are conditional on pre-registration by phone: 03-7645464, and will take place at A.R.M. Medical Center located at 20 Habarzel Street, 1st floor, Assuta Hospital, Ramat Hachayal, Tel Aviv. In addition to the hearing screenings, A.R.M. offers at no cost consulting appointments with its team of leading otologists and audiologists.
A.R.M Medical Center was founded in 2009 as a center of expertise in the fields of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck, and Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. With its team of leading Israeli doctors, it works to deliver all-encompassing solutions for patient needs, with full consideration of the best available technologies. The A.R.M Medical Center operates within “Assuta”, the most advanced private hospital in Israel. For more information, visit: www.aram-ent.co.il/en
BeKol is the organization representing the hard of hearing in Israel that strives for the empowerment, attainment of equal opportunities, and real integration of the hard of hearing in Israel, in all areas of life. The goal of the BeKol is to ensure that every hard of hearing person in Israel will be able to make the most of their skills, to the extent that their heart desires. For more information, visit: www.bekol.org
About Alango Technologies
Alango Technologies, Ltd. (www.alango.com) has been developing sound enhancement technologies since 2002, selling over 50 million software licenses that improve the audio experience in automotive, entertainment, and smart home applications around the world. Realizing the importance and opportunity of combining the sound enhancement technology found in hearing aids with the advances and costs in the consumer electronics world, the Company is now using its field-proven expertise in sound technology to create products for personal hearing enhancement: the “BeHear” product line (www.WearAndHear.com).
BeHear, HearLink, and Wear & Hear are registered trademarks of Alango Technologies, Ltd. in the United States. All other trademarks are the property of their respective holders.
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Induction Loops, Telecoils and BeHear ACCESS
BeHear ACCESS, the newest Personalized Hearing Amplifier headset in the Wear & Hear product line, incorporates telecoil receivers.
Induction Loop Systems transmit wireless audio input via a magnetic field to telecoil receivers. These receivers are found in many hearing aids, some dedicated headphones, and, now, in BeHear ACCESS headsets. In an induction loop system there is no interference, no reverberation, no background noise, just the original signal transmitted directly from the input, whether that is the microphone on a podium, the audio system in a theater, the microphone the cashier is speaking into at the bank, or the music from the concert hall stage. This closed system provides people, especially those with hearing loss, an excellent way to hear voice and audio signals clearly, even in noisy places or when the sound source is far away.
Induction Loop Systems were first introduced publicly in 1937 in a U.K. patent application for a system featuring what was then called a telephone coil. The term telephone coil has been shortened to telecoil or just T-Coil. Induction loops are also known as hearing loops, or simply “loops”.
Induction loop technology is common in Europe and the U.K. and is universally accepted as the international standard for hearing access. Installed base is growing rapidly in the United States as organizations such as HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) and others press venues to become compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
Typically, induction loop systems can be found in:
- Places of Worship
- Concert Halls
- Government Offices
- Ticket Kiosks
- Post Offices
Hearing Loop Demonstrations
The following two animated hearing loop animations and explanations are provided with thanks to www.hearingloop.org — an excellent resource for more information on this technology.
T-Coil Support in BeHear ACCESS
BeHear ACCESS T-coils can be activated wherever a loop system is installed. The wearer simply chooses either the T-Coil Exclusive or T-Coil Transparent mode (from the W&H BeHear app Home page, or by scrolling through the Hearing presets using the middle button on the right-hand control box). Exclusive mode allows only the direct signal from the T-Coil transmission to reach the wearer’s ears, while Transparent mode allows nearby important sounds (such as a companion’s voice) to be heard as well.
Each BeHear ACCESS headset incorporates two T-Coils that are perpendicular to each other, thus greatly decreasing sensitivity to the wearer’s orientation in the magnetic field of an Induction Loop System.