One in 10 Israelis is hard of hearing

Bekol, the voluntary organization for the deaf and hearing impaired are hosting this week's Israel Hearing Week.

hearing aid 88 (photo credit: )
hearing aid 88
(photo credit: )
One in every 10 Israelis, including one third of over 65s, suffer from hearing disability or deafness, according to Bekol, the voluntary organization for the deaf and hearing impaired hosting this week's Israel Hearing Week. The scheme features the majority of its activities, including free hearing tests, on Tuesday. In honor of Hearing Week, Turkey's minister for family affairs, women and the disabled, Nimet Kobuko, is in Israel as a guest of Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog. They will discuss the possibility of cooperation between Turkey and Israel in treating those with hearing and other disabilities and of promoting the women's status. Kobuko witnessed demonstrations of special electronic devices for the hearing impaired, including telephones, devices which enable them to hear TV programs and an infra-red booster of sound which aids deaf people's understanding of public speaking. "Most people with hearing problems are embarrassed by it or deny it completely," said Bekol director-general Ahiya Kamara. "Only about 15% actually use hearing aids and other devices, even though they can definitely improve their quality of life," said Kamara, who himself uses a hearing aid. "The average hearing aid costs NIS 7,000, but the Health Ministry gives a rebate of only 10 %," he said. A special session of the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee met on Monday to discuss the funding problem. It recommended that an inter-ministry committee consisting of representatives of the Health, Finance and Pensioners ministries be established to facilitate funding for hearing aids. The committee said that if a solution is not reached within two weeks, it will call for private legislation to make hearing aids more affordable to the public. The Hadassah College of Technology at 8 Rehov Hahavatzelet in Jerusalem and the Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus will offer free hearing screening on Tuesday. The Audiomedic company will also give free screening in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Tiberias (call 03-5225223 for information).