Europäiche Union der Hörgeräteakustiker e.V.

Europäiche Union der Hörgeräteakustiker  e.V.

European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA) Meeting Report

This blog is being written from Nürenberg, Germany, where I am attending the EUHA meeting.  This is a meeting of the International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians, organized by the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians.  And while the meeting is filled with specialist lectures from renowned experts and a trade exhibition, my primary interest, being somewhat of a technology junky, relates to the latter.  And, to this effect, much that I report concerning this meeting will be directed toward what my impressions were as I strolled the isles of exhibit booths.

“An Audiologist in the Wilderness” series by James Curren will continue in future blogs, but I wanted to provide this timely information about the EUHA meeting on this and on next week’s blog.

A Little History (or, Too Much For Some)

But first, it might be good to inform readers who are unfamiliar with EUHA and the organizational structure in Europe, what this organization actually represents.

EUHA, consisting of approximately 700 members, is the oldest and largest professional association of hearing aid acousticians in Europe.  It was founded in 1960 in Würzburg, Germany under the name of Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (UHA), and was headed by Dr. phil. nat. Werner Pistor for 25 years.

UHA changed its name in 2004 to EUHA.  The reason for this was related to increasing legislative involvement on the part of the European Union (EU), and it was believed that forming a European union would ensure that the interests of EUHA members would be efficiently represented throughout Europe.

Since 1960, the UHA/EUHA has been in charge of organizing the International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians, and over the years the event has gained international renown, and is considered the hearing aid industry’s most important specialist congress held in Europe.  This year, delegates numbered approximately 7000 from about 70 countries according to EUHA officials.  EUHA’s aims are to bring together hearing aid acousticians, scientists, and laymen who have an interest in trade-specific and economic issues, who want to take part in specialized continued education, and vocational training to provide the best possible care for persons with impaired hearing.  In doing so, EUHA provides a platform for all those involved in the rehabilitation of hearing-impaired persons, and acts as a partner having a focus on quality.  Further aims of EUHA include the cultivation of solidarity, responsible professional principles and the professional honor, laid down in a separate Code of Honor.

What is not understood often, is that the organization of the trade exhibition portion of the meeting is managed by the German Association of the Hearing Instruments Industry (BVHI).  This year’s meeting had 113 exhibiting companies according to the Association.  This organization was founded in 1987 under the name of “Association of the Hearing Aid Industry” (VHI), and in 2011 changed its name to the “German Association of the Hearing Instruments Industry” (BVHI).  Thirteen leading hearing aid manufacturers with distribution in Germany (most operating on an international scale), joined forces to form the Association.  BVHI is involved in drawing up technical norms and statutory provisions as well as in market observation, improvements in hearing aid provision, and public relations projects to communicate the importance of hearing.

Germany Hearing Aid Statistics

  • Number of individuals affected by hearing loss in Germany: Approximately 15 million*
  • Number of individuals fitted with hearing systems:  Approximately 3 million*
  • Present number of hearing aids in use in the German market: Approximately 5.3 million**
  • Annual turnover in hearing systems in Germany: Approximately 800,000**
  • Dispensing shops specializing in hearing aids in Germany: 4,300  (workforce of 10,000 employees and 2,500 apprentices)**
  • Hearing systems are provided based on contractual agreements with the public health insurance funds.  If hearing aids are indicated, individuals with impaired hearing are entitled to have hearing aids fitted, paid for by the compulsory health insurance fund at a fixed amount.
  • After six years, at the latest, hearing aid users are entitled to have their hearing systems replaced (fixed amount paid by the compulsory health insurance fund).  This applies even if the degree of hearing impairment remains unchanged.

  *Födergemeinschaft Gutes Hören (FGH)

**Bundersverband der Hörgeräte-Industrie (BVHI)

In some of my future blogs I will intersperse some information that I gathered during this visit to the EUHA meeting.  Because of my background in the design and introduction of hearing aids, much of my interest relates to the hands-on technology that I can see and touch.  I sometimes am not as enamored with demonstrations as are some individuals, because the conditions under which the recorded demonstrations are given often do not replicate what people are hearing in the real world, but tend to be designed and tested in an anechoic chamber, and/or under ideal test conditions.  And, research studies are something that I often look at skeptically, especially when they are based on an “n” of 15 or so.  Plus, I have yet to see a research study published by a manufacturer stating that the study produced poorer results with the new technology.  Having made my skeptical views public, I still believe that there are new products/features that seem to have increasing and/or new application.  And, because technology (embedded in cosmetics) seems to be the issue that drives the industry, both in sales and new ideas, I thought that I would provide a general overview of my impressions from strolling the exhibit halls.

A next blog related to this meeting will focus on issues such as moisture,  power RIC, adaptive directional everything, cosmetics,  complexity versus simplicity, extended non-hearing aid manufacturing offerings, new hearing aid measurements, and acoustic confusion at the beer tent – or, my opportunity to practice my German.

About Wayne Staab

Dr. Wayne Staab is an internationally recognized authority on hearing aids. As President of Dr. Wayne J. Staab and Associates, he is engaged in consulting, research, development, manufacturing, education, and marketing projects related to hearing. Interests away from business include fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, golf, travel, tennis, softball, lecturing, sporting clays, 4-wheeling, archery, swimming, guitar, computers, and photography. Among other pursuits.

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