2009: 54th International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians

Dedicated to Good Hearing: International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians held in Nuremberg

Ninety-five exhibiting companies, 23 speakers, more than 50 media representatives, and per day approx. 2,400 delegates from a total of 70 countries – this is the successful result of the 54th International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians, which closed its gates on 23 October 2009. The Congress was organised by the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA).

"Over the course of three days, 23 presentations given by renowned experts updated the professional audience on the latest developments in medicine, audiology and hearing aid acoustics," as Martin Blecker, president of the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA), explained. Moreover, the hearing aid industry presented their innovations at the accompanying trade exhibition.

The first day of the Congress focused attention on hearing deficiencies in newborns and infants. The second day was dedicated to questions concerning diagnostics, advances in hearing aid fitting, and innovations in earmoulds. A variety of topics was covered on the third Congress day: there were presentations on hearing training, measurement techniques, cochlear implants, on the subjective benefit of hearing systems as well as on tinnitus and hypnosis.

Product innovations

Media representatives were given a chance to look at this year's product innovations in the field of hearing aids. Continued development focused on hearing aid design, which is getting more and more attractive, as well as recent improvements in user-friendliness. Sound quality and speech intelligibility have been improved when hearing aids are connected to the TV set or telephone, a process that has also become easier to implement. Innovative hearing systems facilitate directional hearing as well as filtering the words of the person dominating a conversation in a room with several speakers. Last but not least, there was a focus on that which forms the basis of optimum hearing aid fitting: the hearing aid acoustician's craft and the work performed in specialist laboratories. Custom-made, individually fitted earmoulds are clearly indispensable in almost every case.

A look ahead

Fourteen product highlights from 2009 were presented on 14 black and white illuminated columns in a special exhibition. In this setting, Hans-Peter Bursig, managing director of the Association of the Hearing Aid Industry (VHI), took the opportunity to talk about today's most significant innovations and the most important trends of the future. "Tomorrow's hearing systems will be able to automatically detect in which listening situation users find themselves, and will then select the appropriate hearing program: for example, when switching between noise in the street and the quiet atmosphere of a shop," as Mr Bursig put it. "At home, the hearing system will be able to detect any Bluetooth transmitters (e.g. TV set, telephone, doorbell, baby monitor) in the vicinity, and to decide which signals from these sources are to be remitted to the hearing system." However, the most important criterion for wearing hearing systems still is speech recognition. Modern hearing systems recognise acoustic signals with varying degrees of loudness and varying time differences. Ideally, they provide amplification without altering the speech pattern.

In addition, Martin Blecker stressed that "all of those technological advances notwithstanding, the hearing aid acoustician will continue to play a central role in hearing aid fitting: he adjusts those hi-tech devices to individual hearing deficiencies and to the customer's personal auditory requirements. It is the acoustician who is responsible for making sure that advanced hearing aid technology will deliver optimum performance in practice."