IFHOH President visits New Zealand
Wednesday 30th October 2013
The International Federation for the Hard of Hearing (IFHOH) President visits New Zealand
Hearing loss is invisible to many. The issues for hard of hearing persons are rife across the globe; the lack of available technologies inhibiting communication for millions every day.
The World Health Organisation estimates that over 90 percent of the 300 million people suffering from hearing loss would benefit from aids, while less than 15 percent of people in developing countries have received the assistance they are in need of.
In a world where there’s no such thing as a quick-fix, a quiet hero comes in the form of the International Federation for the Hard of Hearing (IFHOH).
Founded in 1977, the IFHOH shoulders the upstanding ambition of promoting greater understanding of hearing loss issues and improving access to hearing aids, assistive technology (captioning, for example) and cochlear implants.
Current IFHOH President Ruth Warick was recently in New Zealand to appoint for the very first time a Human Rights Officer. Louise Carroll, CEO of The National Foundation for the Deaf, accepted this prestigious position and with it the responsibility of liaising between IFHOH and the United Nations (with whom the IFHOH holds consultative status).
“Her role will be to develop a toolkit that speaks directly to the UN convention on the IFHOH position on accessibility, healthcare and education”, says Ms. Warick.
The IFHOH are currently working together with the UN on a designated day promoting awareness of hearing loss, which as Ruth says, will “shine a light” on the issues so many face day to day. IFHOH are also affiliated with the Office of Human Rights; the World Health Organisation; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Ruth and the IFHOH at large are incredibly impressed by the progress of Louise’s team at The National Foundation for the Deaf here in New Zealand. ‘New Zealand has developed the Safe Sound Indicator for schools and this has set a great example to the rest of the world.’
Speaking more broadly about the IFHOH’s aims, Ruth emphasised the alarming disparity in figures between those who suffer from hearing loss and those who receive the help they need.
“Hearing aids are provided to less than 3% of those in need of them in the developing countries”, she says.
“The statistics are shocking.”
The work that IFHOH and The National Foundation for the Deaf do is unique in that deafness impacts people of all walks of life, and this demands a unified and continuing response.
“If we come together as a worldwide nation, we can make changes and improve the lives of the deaf and hearing impaired by increasing awareness and highlighting the lack of equality in human rights.’