The key messages for this event will highlight the:
- Expected rise in prevalence of hearing loss globally over the coming years (based on statistical projections);
- Efforts that are required to stem the rise through appropriate preventive action;
- Need to ensure that people with hearing loss have access to the required rehabilitation services and the communication tools and products they require.
Simone Botha, a cochlear implant user since she was 22 months old, is a professional dancer who was chosen to advertise a brand of gyms around the world. Several months ago, the gym advertising agency edited her cochlear implant, showing society still has a lot to learn about being inclusive and eliminate stigmas.
She posted the photo to her Facebook page and wrote to Virgin: “This is a billboard picture of me posing for Virgin Active and if you don’t know me personally then you won’t miss the tiny piece that is a cochlear implant that is supposed to sit on my head. They just went and without my permission decided to edit the cochlear implant out, because why!!??? It doesn’t fit with their pretty little picture of portraying the perfect life that is Virgin Active? Well guess what? Life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect.”
Virgin Active swiftly removed the edited photograph and had a meeting with the model: “We issued an immediate apology to Simone. We will work with Simone around education and have re-run the campaign, un-retouched. We 100% accept that the action of photo-shopping the image is not in line with our values as a business, nor in keeping with the welcome we extend to everyone.”
During our International Cochlear Implant Day 2018 celebration we want to share this story to raise awareness as Simone says, “Thanks to the Cochlear Implant, there are no limits!”. Her profession related with music is a clear proof of that.
In Europe, 10% of the total population (52 million people) self-report to experience hearing loss, 73% consult a medical professional, but only 50% are referred to hearing care professionals. Hearing loss is a huge problem for the health of Europe’s citizens, threatening to put huge pressure on Europe’s health and social care systems if left untreated. Innovative medical technology, such as hearing aids and hearing implants, can alleviate the burden. Action from European policy-makers is called to help raise awareness of this condition, look at eective ways of prevention, facilitate access to these technologies where appropriate, improve care and share best practices amongst Member States.
The draft “European Accessibility Act” (EAA) sets out requirements to make a number of products and services more accessible. The list includes: ticketing and check-in machines, ATMs, PCs and operating systems, phones and TV equipment, consumer banking services, e-books, e-commerce, transport, including public urban transport such as underground, rail, tramway, trolleybus and bus, and the related services, such as payment terminals, e-book readers, websites and mobile device-based services offered by audio visual media and tourism services.
The EAA, as the Parliament has said “is a directive that includes persons with disabilities as well as persons with temporary or permanent functional limitations”, such as elderly persons, pregnant women and persons travelling with luggage, “in order to ensure genuine benefits and an independent life for a wider portion of society”.
The EAA will outline what needs to be accessible, but will not impose detailed technical solutions as to how to make it accessible, thus allowing for innovation.
The voting was this past Thursday 14th September and we are happywith the decisions adopted. A strong Accessibility Act was crucial to make a real difference in the lives of all people in Europe, including 80 million persons with disabilities and 150 million older people.