More than 1.1 billion people worldwide live with hearing loss -- half of which is preventable, according to the World Health Organization.
American ear surgeon Susan Emmett said most of these are in low and middle-income countries where traditional hearing tests are a challenge. Malawi, for example, has only two ear surgeons and 11 audiologists. Emmett is currently testing South African-developed mobile screening technology in rural Alaskan communities that has replaced the need for an audiologist, permanent equipment and a soundproof room.
The technology, costing 10 times less than traditional solutions, involves noise-isolating headphones and an adaptor attached to a mobile phone used to examine a patient´s ears.
Another speaker, Kyle DeCarlo, who is deaf, wishes the world would be more concerned with giving the deaf access to language rather than sound. He has developed a semi-transparent surgical mask so that deaf patients can read the lips of their doctors in hospitals.