MILAN, ITALY – Hearing loss, affecting 1.5 billion people worldwide, is a rising concern amplified by an aging population and an increasingly noisy society. Valentina Fornari addresses this issue in her book, “The Emotion of Sound,” aiming to raise awareness about hearing risks and combat the associated stigma.
Her book delves into studies on noise pollution’s impact and technological solutions while highlighting the journey of Amplifon, an Italian company leading the way in hearing care services and solutions for over seventy years, with a mission to positively impact millions of lives.
The challenges related to hearing loss today are more substantial and diverse than in past. The correlation between age and hearing decline, with the onset often starting around fifty years old, poses a significant concern given the increasing population of older adults in developed nations.
Approximately 25% of individuals over sixty years old are affected by hearing loss, and this prevalence amplifies with age.
However, hearing issues aren’t confined to the elderly. The World Health Organization indicates that about 1.1 billion individuals under thirty-five face the risk of early hearing loss due to excessive exposure to loud noise. Notably, between 2017 and 2021, the number of individuals aged 22-54 using hearing aids in the United States rose by 14%, surpassing other age groups. This trend, observed in both the overall population and in Italy, signifies an enhanced awareness of hearing loss.
Despite this, high-income countries have achieved a hearing device penetration rate exceeding 40% for those in need, while developing nations lag with a penetration rate below 7%, indicating a need for further action.
Moreover, there is still too much social stigma attached to the subject of hearing loss. So there is still some way to go.
Changing Perceptions of Hearing Loss
An impact that, in Amplifon’s case, is measured in the ability to help others rediscover the “emotion” of sound. Because, as Fornari recalls:
“Restoring hearing allows a person to hear sounds and noises that he or she was (no longer) able to hear and, consequently, to regain access to the sensations and feelings associated with those lost sounds. The value lies not only in the recovered decibels, but above all in the expressive and communicative capacity made possible by being able to hear more. Enriching the range of sounds means… hearing in colour, perceiving nuances. It means grasping all the notes, being able to appreciate the expression of each one without having to concentrate on trying to hear and decipher it. Hearing better means being able to listen to and appreciate, because you recognise them, the variety of tones, which are in themselves the expression of feelings and not only of meanings”.
Valentina Fornari has been an academic fellow at the Department of Marketing of Bocconi University in Milan for over thirty years, where she teaches Marketing, Product & Service Management and Pricing & Budgeting. She runs training courses and collaborates with several economic newspapers. In the evenings she goes to her own world, where there is little noise.
- “The emotion of sound – People, service and innovation: the sustainable growth path of a global leader” Egea, 2023 – 160 pages – In bookshops from: 8 December, 2023