Washington-based RAYOVAC® a division of Energizer Holdings, Inc. is helping to raise awareness of hearing loss in the lead-up to World Hearing Day 2020 (Tuesday 3 March), with the launch of a campaign to encourage people to talk more openly about their hearing, educating them on early signs and asking them to get their hearing tested.

RAYOVAC®’s campaign, ‘Let’s Talk about Hearing Loss’ aims to encourage people to speak to their loved ones about their experience with hearing loss and, rather than accepting the status quo, to get their hearing tested by an audiologist.

The campaign uses a relatable approach, centred around a number of ‘hearing personality types’, including ‘I’m ignoring it Ivor’, ‘I’m compensating Constance’, ‘It’s not my problem Peter’ and ‘I know I need help Helen’ and asks consumers to identify themselves or their loved ones from the line-up, supported with practical tips and advice on next steps.

Supporting RAYOVAC® in the campaign is British audiologist Emily Balmer, Director of Audiology and founder of The Hearing Suite in Harrogate. Emily launched her business in 2018 after spotting a gap in the market for a new approach to hearing care.

She said: “After graduating from university with an audiology degree, I moved in the direction of adult rehabilitation. It is common practice for people to visit an optician when we notice deterioration in our vision, yet many people still ignore the early signs of hearing loss, accepting it as just another part of the ageing process, rather than seeking help.

“Many are so used to compensating for poorer hearing that they don’t view it as a problem, or they may be concerned about what the outcome of a hearing test might be. I am delighted to be working with RAYOVAC® to help people to talk more openly about their hearing, banish misconceptions around what wearing a hearing aid is like and help more people take steps to get their hearing tested.”

Established by the World Health Organization, World Hearing Day is the largest global advocacy campaign to raise awareness of ear and hearing care issues. This year’s event, around the theme of ‘Hearing for Life: don’t let hearing loss limit you’, will target the public with information to increase awareness of issues surrounding hearing loss motivating them to seek help.

To help people to start the conversation around hearing loss, RAYOVAC® has established an online information hub which includes advice on identifying early signs, guidance on how to broach the subject with a friend, colleague or loved one, where to go for help and what to expect from your first audiology appointment. This is available alongside a toolkit for independent audiologists and hearing professionals, to help them spread the word around World Hearing Day.

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at RAYOVAC® said: “Hearing loss affects one in six people[1] and can make you feel isolated and alone, but with the right help it shouldn’t stop you living the life you deserve.

“As a leading global hearing aid battery manufacturer* RAYOVAC® wants to empower our customers to hear more, so they can live their best lives. The first step is recognising there is a problem and taking a hearing test, before consulting with a hearing specialist like Emily.”

“I love it when I see people getting on with life”

Andy Boocock, AKA Very Inky Dude, is not afraid to stand out in a crowd. The fashion model and social influencer is also the most visibly tattooed front-line nurse in the NHS.

Andy, who has a tattoo of a mute symbol above each ear, along with the word ‘Louder’ on the left side of his head is also a passionate advocate for hearing loss awareness.

“I started noticing a considerable change in my hearing around three years ago,” says Andy, “Music is one of my passions and I have spent a lot of my time playing rock n roll, DJing, and clubbing over the years. I think many of us will be familiar with the scenario: coming out of a club or a gig with your ears still ringing, thinking well it will be fine in the morning. I didn’t think permanent hearing loss would happen to me.

“I am an A&E charge nurse and so, when I noticed a sudden significant change in my hearing, I sought help within the NHS. I was referred by my GP to an audiologist. It was then that I found out that I had permanent hearing damage caused by loud music, including listening to music through headphones on a high volume.

“My hearing is 70% on the left, where I have my ‘Louder’ tattoo and 50% on right. Hearing is crucial in the environment I work in. I am one for getting things dealt with rather than dwell on them and so I was determined to find the best solution for me.”

Andy is supporting RAYOVAC®’s ‘Let’s Talk about Hearing Loss’ campaign as he feels that many people with hearing loss put-off getting help, either just ignoring early signs as he did or believing it to be just another side-effect of getting older.

“I think some people just accept hearing loss or they are worried about what wearing a hearing aid will be like. For older people it may be that they are concerned about ‘looking old’ whereas for children or teenagers, fear of standing out in a crowd and being bullied can be a concern. What can happen is that you can start to isolate yourself as a result and stop doing the things you love. That doesn’t need to happen.

“I initially waited around 18-months from when the damage first became noticeable. It is a bit like when you first start to need glasses, you just hold the paper further away and carry on. I was generally aware, and it was noticeable to my wife, the volume on the TV was on a much higher level when my wife was out of the house, compared to when she was in. I do wish I had sought help before I noticed a big change, but I don’t dwell on it.

“There are so many solutions out there – the technology that is available today is so advanced and there are so many options on the market to suit different needs. I initially started out with two over the ear hearing aids from the NHS. They did the job well, but I have since changed to a hearing aid which fits my lifestyle, which I acquired through a private audiologist.

“What I notice, looking back, was that as I started to become aware of issues with my hearing, I would exclude myself or put myself on the fringes of group situations. I used to get lost in terms of what was being said and became increasingly worried that I would get it wrong and look silly. After a while you subconsciously do it. As you get older, your social circle gets a little smaller, so it’s important you can fully communicate and enjoy those moments. To not become excluded and isolate yourself.

“Seeking help put an end to that. Understanding my hearing and having my hearing aids has given me confidence in those situations again. Visiting Emily, my Audiologist, gave me confidence. Audiologists have made this their career and they are passionate about what they do.

“If I don’t hear something the first time, I feel confident to check what was said before replying. This is something you learn to work with. I am an awful lot better than I was – at work I can have multiple people talking to me at once and I can be on the phone at the same time.

Addressing the noise-induced hearing loss I was experiencing has helped me to keep doing the things I love. I love it when I see people getting on with life and I would urge anyone who is experiencing hearing loss to seek help via their GP or via a high street audiologist or hearing centre.

* Based on internal company estimates of worldwide market share.