Making Hearing Health Technology Accessible For All

Author: Tarif Sayed (Chief Commercial Officer)

I have always believed that technology can be a force for good. It was one of the reasons why I decided to join Mimi late last year; alongside my belief in the power and the potential of its technology to make a positive impact on people’s daily lives.

Technology is still unfortunately not accessible or inclusive to everyone. The internet and smartphones might be a part of many people’s everyday routine, but millions are being left out in the latest advancements to technology. Making technology accessible for all should be an ethical priority, and not only a business driver.

A number that stands out to me when talking about Mimi and hearing technologies, is that 466 million people globally currently suffer from some form of hearing loss. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) predicts this number to increase to nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide ─ or 1 in 4 people ─ by 2050.

That is 466 million people that are currently not hearing all the detail in the sounds from their favorite movie, or music, or when taking a phone call. 466 million people are not able to get the most out of their devices or audio content. Imagine how many unsatisfied users there are, and how much revenue businesses are potentially losing each year, because they lack inclusive design and accessibility features in their products. 

For every audio description setting that allows people to enjoy films, there is a TV that doesn’t allow users to adjust the audio setting to compensate for their hearing loss. The average adult American listens to 7 hours of audio per day, this means they are exposed more than ever to audio frequencies and loud sounds that can be harmful to their hearing. Their smartphone, TV, or headphone must be able to monitor or limit exposure to loud sounds, outside of the volume buttons. This lack of accessibility to hearing technology in our devices denies a full experience to millions and could be damaging the hearing of millions.

Whilst inroads have been made by the bigger players in the consumer tech industry over the last couple of years to include hearing features and technologies into their devices, there is still more work to be done. 

As we consume more and more audio on a daily basis and see the inevitable negative effects in the coming years on our hearing health, technology needs to start reflecting the silent epidemic of hearing loss. From the first time you switch on a device, you should be able to test your hearing on a regular basis, and sounds coming out of your device must be adapted to your own hearing capabilities, as well as protecting your ears by limiting exposure to noises and loud sounds.

Technology should be empathetic towards its users. Technology is about solving problems. Technology must protect the hearing of the 7.8 billion people living on our planet. Whether we suffer from hearing loss or not, we all deserve to hear every detail of our favorite music or movie. As an industry, it is our job to make everyone hear better and hear healthy and be the force for good that I know we can be.