SA researchers turn smartphones into hearing tests

Software developed by University of Pretoria researchers could bring cheaper hearing tests to South Africa’s rural areas. The hearScreen technology, which has been patented and is in the process of being licensed, can turn any smartphone into an audiometer to test people’s hearing.

According to the 2011 census, about 4% of South Africa’s 51-million citizens suffer from some form of hearing impairment, ranging from mild hearing difficulty to complete deafness – but this number may be higher due to a lack of access to quality hearing tests.

“Access and quality of access both represent a fundamental challenge of accessible health care for deaf infants, deaf children and deaf adults,” says Jabulane Blose, chief executive officer of South African National Deaf Association. “Many rural people have to travel considerable distances to big cities and towns to access hearing test facilities simply because such facilities are not available at district hospitals.”

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