Hearing in Later Life: A Multi-stakeholder Convention in Anticipation of the Lancet Commission Report on Reducing the Global Burden of Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common sensory impairments among older people and is the fifth leading cause of disability in the world. Sensory capabilities such as hearing decline with age, beginning with adults in their 40s and increasing dramatically for those aged 80 years and older.

Despite growing evidence demonstrating hearing loss is not an inevitable consequence of ageing, many older people live with undiagnosed changes that compromises their daily functioning.  By 2050, the world’s ageing population is expected to reach more than 2.1 billion, a projection that will significantly increase the incidence of those with hearing loss and therein their function.

When: Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Where:  Virtual
                   In-person at The Hilton Niagara Falls Hotel
9:00AM to 4:30PM
Registration fee:  In-person: $100 USD*
                                        Virtual: $70
*Delegates that register to attend the in-person conference will get a discount rate of  30% to attend the pre-conference event

About the Hearing in Later Life Convention:

Building on the virtual Think Tank on Hearing in Later Life convened by IFA and the International Collegium on Rehabilitative Audiology (ICRA), the Hearing in Later Life: A Multi-stakeholder Convention in Anticipation of the Lancet Commission Report on Reducing the Global Burden of Hearing Loss convention will act as an international platform specifically convened to stimulate policy discussions with key decision makers from government, industry, audiology, and civil society on the issue hearing loss among older adults. 

Working towards the overarching goal that all government and non-government led actions for healthy ageing include hearing care within their scope, this convention will work within multi-disciplinary, facilitated taskforces to:

  • Determine an action plan to mobilize key messages from the World Report on Hearing to Member States, in the context of healthy ageing
  • Develop a factsheet to be promoted to healthcare providers to promote standards of care in diagnosis, referral, and treatment of hearing loss in older adults
  • Identify advocacy efforts that can be taken to increase knowledge among older adults to help tackle misconceptions and stigma that inhibit help-seeking
  • Compile existing evidence on the importance of hearing care to healthy ageing and the economy which can be used to persuade policymakers to invest in hearing care

The forthcoming WHO World Report on Hearing emphasizes that functional ability of older adults cannot be achieved unless the individual has good hearing, which is integral to communication, cognition, and overall health.  The World Report on Hearing further emphasizes that it is possible to have good hearing across the life-course through integrated, people-centered ear and hearing care. This aligns with the Decade of Healthy Ageing, which aims to maximize functional ability of older people through integrated care.

With the WHO World Report on Hearing launching on World Hearing Day (3 March 2021); the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030); and the expertise, momentum and connections built during the Think Tank on Hearing in Later Life; it is the opportune time to convene the Hearing in Later Life convention, which will take place one day prior to the 15th Global Conference on Ageing, on 9 November 2021 in Niagara Falls, Canada.  

Register now

To download the program schedule for the Hearing in Later Life convention, click here.

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Blake Wilson is the Director of the Duke Hearing Center and is an Adjunct or Consulting Professor in each of three departments at Duke: Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

He is a principal developer of the modern cochlear implant and the Chair of the ongoing Lancet Commission on Hearing Loss. He or he and his teams or colleagues have been recognized with many awards, including the 2013 Lasker~DeBakey Award and the 2015 Russ Prize. Additionally, he is the 42nd recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

An otolaryngologist and public health expert, Shelly Chadha leads the WHO programme on deafness and hearing loss.

Shelly Chadha had over 15 years of experience, working in the clinical and public health field in India before joining the World Health Organization. At the WHO, she is responsible for shaping the global hearing health agenda, undertaking advocacy and providing technical support to Member States in the development, implementation and monitoring of ear and hearing care plans.

The major initiatives led and coordinated by Shelly Chadha include: the World Hearing Day; the Make Listening Safe initiative; the World Hearing Forum and the World Report on Hearing.

Laura Tamblyn Watts is the CEO of CanAge, Canada’s national seniors’ advocacy organization and a frequently sought-after speaker. Her work focuses on aging, inclusion, and justice. She has previously served as Chief Public Policy Officer at the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (2018- 2019) and in a number of positions at the Canadian Centre for Elder Law including as their long-time National Director (2004-2018). She is faculty at the Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work where she teaches a course in Law and Aging at the University of Toronto (2012-current).  She was called to the Bar in 1999.

Laura is a Board Member of IIROC, Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario and PACE independent living.  She just completed her term on the Board of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). Prior to joining OBSI’s Board, she Chaired OBSI’s Consumer and Investor Advisory Committee.

She is a past Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Elder Law section, where she sits as a current Executive member. She is a member of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada’s (IFIC) committee on Seniors and Vulnerable Investors (IFIC) and serves as a Canadian representative on the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASSA) committee on Vulnerable Investors. Laura is a continuing member of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Taskforce on Seniors. She helped to co-found Canada’s second low-income seniors’ legal services centre, SeniorsFirst BC, located in Vancouver, and served as its first Legal Director. She received her undergraduate honours degree in Political Science from Queen’s University and her law degree with honours from the University of Victoria. She was called to the Bar in 1999. She received her certificate in bilingualism in 1991. She was awarded the Distinguished International Fellow Award from Stetson University Centre for Excellence in Elder Law and is a Canadian representative to the International Guardianship Network, and Fellow of the World Congress on Adult Guardianship. 

Laura is the author of numerous papers on aging issues, and is a frequent media commentator. Her upcoming book, the 3 am Guide to Your Aging Parents will be released next year.

Dr Dalia Tsimpida is a postdoctoral researcher based at The University of Manchester, UK. She has an extensive background in hearing health in later life, health psychology, social epidemiology, health policy and health services planning, and vast experience in delivering innovative research on lifestyle factors with hearing loss in older adults. Her research has led to the foundation of a new distinct emerging research field, namely hearing health inequalities.

In 2020, she received the International Society of Audiology (ISA) Scholarship for her pioneering research findings on the prevention and early detection of hearing loss in primary care and its potential in maximising the opportunity for healthy and active ageing.  

Kathy Pichora-Fuller completed a B.A. in Linguistics (1977) and a M.Sc. in Audiology and Speech Sciences (1980). After working as an audiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto (1979-1986), she completed a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Toronto (1991).

She taught Audiology at the University of British Columbia (1992-2002) and then moved to the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. In 2020, she became Professor Emerita and moved to the Vancouver area where she is an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University and a Research Affiliate at the Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility. She continues her research as the audiology expert for the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Canadian Consortium on Neuro-degeneration in Aging.

She was President of the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (1984-87), served on the board of the Canadian Academy of Audiology (2002-2004), and represented Canada at the International Society of Audiology (2004-2010, 2014-2016) and the WHO World Hearing Forum (2019). In 2014, she won the International Award of the American Academy of Audiology. She co-chaired the 2016 World Congress of Audiology. She is currently the President of the International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology.

Dr. Ruth Warick is a founding member of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, a former national president and currently serves as President of its BC Chapter. She is also president of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing Persons and First Vice-Chair of the International Disability Alliance, a network of international disability organizations that interfaces with the United Nations.

Ruth was born hard of hearing and received her first hearing aid at age 11 although her significant hearing loss warranted earlier intervention. She is passionate about accessibility, awareness, education, and inclusion for persons with hearing loss.

She was employed for over 25 years at The University of British Columbia, working as an Advisor on accessibility for students, faculty and staff of all types of disabilities. She edited the IFHOH publication on Realities Facing Hard of Hearing Learners in Nepal and Uganda (2020) and wrote Voices Unheard: The Academic and Social Experiences of University Students who are Hard of Hearing (2003) for her doctoral dissertation.  She is on the steering committee for the WHO World Hearing Forum and co-chairs its Champions Working Group.

Hans-Werner Wahl(h-Index = 41) is a former Professor of Psychological Aging Research, now being Senior professor and Director of the Network Aging Research of Heidelberg University. He is also a senior researcher in the Department of Psychological Aging Research at the Institute of Psychology of Heidelberg University. His research interests include the study of the psychosocial impact of age-related vision and hearing impairment, the role of subjective aging, aging and technology, and conceptual contributions to aging such as to the ongoing successful aging debate. Dr. Wahl is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) since 2002.

His interest in hearing in later life is anchored in his work on the more general issue of adaptation to chronic conditions and well-being in old and very old age, his research on aging and the role of the environment (seeing hearing impairment as impacting on person-environment fit), as well as the importance of self-views of aging and self-stereotyping. Further, he strongly believes that hearing loss deserves much more attention in the ongoing debate on successful aging.

Dr. Nyblade is a Fellow and Senior Technical Advisor on Stigma and Discrimination in the division for global health, International Development Group, RTI International.  For the past two decades, she has built and led a portfolio of research and programmatic work on HIV stigma with a focus on data utilization to support evidence-based program implementation and policy at local, national, and global levels.  Most recently, with a focus on addressing HIV and intersecting stigmas in health facilities.    Working in close collaboration with civil society and governments across Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia and the Caribbean, Dr. Nyblade has led the design, roll out and evaluation of evidence-based HIV stigma reduction programs, the development of programmatic tools to engage multiple audiences, and the development and validation of stigma measures.  

Most recently, Dr. Nyblade’s research and programmatic interests have focused on health stigma more broadly and exploring where commonalities may exist that can be leveraged for a more efficient and effective response to health stigma, either through translations of lessons learned around one health stigma to another, or through joint intervention research programs that tackle multiple health stigmas together.   In this area of work, Dr. Nyblade is currently leading a sub-working group on hearing loss stigma under the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss.

Katherine S. McGilton (RN, PhD) is a Senior Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network and a Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. She has research funding as the principal investigator from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Alzheimer Society of Canada, and the MOH&LTC. 

She was recently inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences for her work in the field of aging.  The results of her program of research have led to innovations in models of care and positive outcomes on older adults and staff in long term care homes and rehabilitation facilities that have been translated to protocols that guide the provision of care in these settings. 

Professor Catherine McMahon is the Director of Audiology and Director of the H:EAR [Hearing, Education, Application, Research] Centre at Macquarie University. She is the Education and Practice lead of Macquarie University Hearing, a university-wide hearing strategy which aims to transform hearing health locally and globally.

Her research centres on understanding the barriers and facilitators to accessing and ultilising hearing healthcare, and the design and implementation of effective care pathways. She is currently leading a $1.96 million MRFF grant to co-produce new pathways of ear and hearing care for Aboriginal children. Professor McMahon is involved in the design and delivery of clinical trials to evaluate new diagnostics and therapies and developing the evidence-base to demonstrate the benefits of interventions.

Professor McMahon works closely with the World Health Organisation to develop and collate the evidence-base for the World Report on Hearing, which will be launched in 2020 and is an invited commissioner on the Lancet Commission of Hearing Loss which will be published in 2022. She was a member of the 12-person Hearing Health Sector Committee that developed the Australian Roadmap of Hearing Health which was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019.

De Wet Swanepoel is professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria and senior research fellow at the Ear Science Institute Australia.

Prof Swanepoel’s research capitalizes on the growth in information and communication technologies to explore, develop and evaluate innovative technologies and service delivery models to improve ear and hearing care. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters and is funded by the NIH, UK Academy of Medical Sciences, National Research Foundation, industry. He has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his work and serves on various boards, committees and working groups for organizations including UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Prof Swanepoel is a past president of the International Society of Audiology and currently serves as Editor-In-Chief for the International Journal of Audiology. He is also founder of a digital health company called the hearX group, a social enterprise with a vision of healthy hearing for everyone, everywhere.

Carrie Nieman, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery within the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Nieman is Core Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health and Principal Faculty at the Center for Innovative Care in Aging.

Dr. Nieman’s research incorporates principles and collaborators from across disciplines, including gerontology, social design, behavioral intervention research, community-based participatory research, and human factors. Her research is focused on understanding and addressing hearing care disparities among older adults through the development and implementation of innovative public health-driven solutions.

Mr. Zeljko Blagojevic has been working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since 2016 on population development issues and provision of technical support to government institutions on evidence-based policy development. He led the process of development of policies on ageing in Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with entity governments and statistical offices. Both strategies take into consideration capacities of older persons for community development through voluntarism and intergenerational collaboration, as well as their needs in terms of active and healthy ageing aimed at prevention of mental health of older persons.

Furthermore, Zeljko has been involved in development of a network of Healthy Ageing Centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Currently, the network has 15 HACs opened in eight municipalities across the country that serve several thousand older persons. Initial steps were made to expand the network to other countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. Before UNFPA, Zeljko worked on economic and social development projects across Western Balkans for UNDP, World Vision International, United Methodist Committee on Relief, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in financial management.

Maitreyi Bordia Das is Practice Manager in the Urban, Resilience and Land Global Practice of the World Bank. She oversees several global programs, including the Global Partnership for Results Based Approaches (formerly, GBOPA) and the Tokyo Development Learning Center. Previously, she was the Bank’s first Global Lead on Social Inclusion.

Based in Washington DC, Dr. Das leads a talented group of professionals who work on urban development, resilience and inclusion. She has long-standing research and policy experience in human development and infrastructure related sectors. Of these, urban development, water and sanitation, demography, health, social protection and social development, stand out.

For information about the Conference, click here.