Safe listening is the theme of World Hearing Day 2022. While the primary role of hearing care professionals is to treat people who are already experiencing hearing loss, there are many good reasons why they should consider actively engaging with this theme and promoting the World Health Organization’s message, “to hear for life, listen with care.”
After all, most enter the business at least partly because they care about helping people regain their ability to hear and communicate – so why not be active in helping to preserve that ability in the first place?
And by using their role as an expert in hearing to spread an important public health message, they can become a trusted person in their community who local people might turn to if they do start experiencing problems with their hearing.
So what can they do? Perhaps surprisingly, there’s a lot that HCPs can learn from dentists.
Learning from dental professionals
Being actively involved in oral health campaigns outside their clinic has long been the norm for many dental professionals.
And they do it in a huge variety of ways. Some offer free oral health checks in their local shopping mall, give talks to school classes, or spread messages via social media. Others take part in community rallies, join oral health campaign steering groups, or speak out on local TV and radio stations.
This work is supported by dentistry and public health guidelines around the world, many of which now stress the importance of dental professionals playing an active role in prevention campaigns. The American Board of Dental Public Health even lists advocacy and communication on oral health issues among the 10 core competencies for dental professionals.
As a result, several educational institutions have produced extensive guidance on preparing dental students to become strong advocates of oral health in their communities, including the Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University in Philadelphia.
So what can hearing care professionals do?
Many of the activities commonly seen in dentistry can be easily translated to audiology – and the Kornberg School guidelines (and others) can also be mined for good ideas. For starters, HCPs could consider using social or local media to spread messages about safe listening and hearing loss prevention, giving talks at local schools, or offering free hearing checks at a mall.
The Ida Institute’s bank of “Ideas Worth Hearing” could also be used for inspiration. These suggestions were gathered back in 2012 as part of a global, online competition to find ideas to raise awareness about hearing loss. A decade on, many are still just as relevant.
Clinics could start a blog or write an article for a local newspaper about safe listening, launch a hearing café at a local coffee shop to start conversations about preventing hearing loss, or work with their local fitness center or music venue to educate staff and visitors about healthy listening behaviors and the consequences of loud music.
So why not get inspired this World Hearing Day and start planning your first steps as a safe listening advocate?