Sept 2020 Australian Hearing Hub

linguistics staffLeft to right: Dr Rebecca Kim, Dr John Newall and Associate Professor Piers Dawes

Researchers from the Department of Linguistics, in the Australian Hearing Hub, have been awarded a highly competitive grant from the United Nations’ Global Partnership for Assistive Technology to address hearing loss in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Principal Investigator Dr John Newall and his fellow researchers, Associate Professor Piers Dawes and Dr Rebecca Kim, will lead a Global Hearing Co-operative across 16 countries to deliver the project, which will provide information on hearing needs and test the benefits of low-cost pre-programmed hearing aids for people in LMICs.

There are 466 million people with hearing loss worldwide and stark global inequalities in hearing health: 80 per cent of people with hearing loss live in LMICs. While hearing aids are very effective in reducing the impact of hearing loss, there are few opportunities for individuals in such countries to access them. “This project will drive our understanding of the hearing health needs of those in a diverse range of low- and middle-income countries, and investigate the efficacy of low-cost, scalable hearing interventions,” Dr Newall said.

To deliver this project, Dr Newall and his Macquarie University colleagues will work with a Global Hearing Co-operative network that includes Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Samoa, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

Dr Newall is an audiologist whose primary area of expertise is hearing loss and hearing rehabilitation in LMICs. Dr Newall has led investigations of hearing handicap as well as an investigation of the effectiveness of two large-scale hearing aid donation programmes in the Philippines.

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