Eight small buses equipped with wheelchair access hit the roads – National Strategy for Disability coming soon (images)

Eight small buses equipped with wheelchair seating were delivered today, and the National Strategy for Disability will soon be submitted to the Cabinet.

These vehicles, which include provisions for people with disabilities, were given to the “Apostolos Loukas” Special School in Limassol, the “Apostolos Varnavas” Special School in Liopetri, the “Apostolos Pavlos” Private Center for people with intellectual disabilities in Liopetri, the “Evangelismos” Special School in Geri, the Ministry of Education for Secondary Education, and the Social Welfare Services of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare.

At the delivery event were the Minister of Transport, Alexis Vafeadis, and the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Marilena Evangelou.

Ms. Evangelou noted that, as the responsible Deputy Ministry for the integration of People with Disabilities, the mobility of people with disabilities is a necessary prerequisite for their participation in education, creative employment, independent living, and therefore their social integration.

She also noted that in the coming period, they will investigate additional similar requests to meet other needs. Moreover, she said, they are in dialogue with the directly involved stakeholders to develop a new, modern legislation that will govern all issues related to social integration, inclusion, and support for People with Disabilities.

The revised National Strategy and Action Plan for Disability, which will be in effect until 2028, has been completed and will be submitted to the Cabinet next week. It includes a total of 73 new actions and goals from 8 Ministries and 4 Deputy Ministries. For the first time, the National Strategy and Action Plan is organized into thematic pillars that follow the life of a Person with Disabilities from birth to old age, she said.

“Unwelcoming stadiums for people with disabilities – Recommendations of the Commissioner for Administration”

The report highlights accessibility issues raised by the Cyprus Paraplegics Organization (O.P.A.K.) concerning the new stadium in Limassol, as well as other football stadiums.

In a series of recommendations aimed at reversing the situation prevailing in football stadiums regarding the accessibility of people with disabilities, a special report by the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights, Maria Stylianou-Lottides, is issued. The goal, emphasized, is to take specific measures so that people with disabilities can enjoy sports events equally and without any discrimination, including football matches at all football stadiums.

According to the Commissioner, there should be:

· Parking spaces for people with disabilities, available at all times, near the stadium entrance, and measures taken to prevent them from being occupied by unauthorized individuals.

· Sufficient and continuous access chain from the parking area to the stadium gates, where there should be appropriately configured ticket booths and service points at a lower height for people with disabilities using wheelchairs, as well as separate accessible non-revolving entrance gates to the stadium.

· Unobstructed and obstacle-free movement for people with disabilities to their seats within the stadium, as well as along the aisles and to/from the refreshment areas and restroom facilities of the stadium.

· Specially designed seating areas for people with disabilities that ensure an equivalent view of the playing field to that enjoyed by other attendees in the stadium. Based on standards of adequate visibility, the line of sight for people with disabilities, especially those who, due to the nature of their disability, remain seated throughout the match, should remain clear and unaffected by obstacles.

· In any case, these designated seats, as well as restroom facilities and refreshment areas, should be available in the stands not only of the home team but also of the visiting team, so that people with disabilities have the opportunity, like other fans attending the stadium, to choose their seat and watch the match alongside the supporters of their team. They should enjoy the same experience within the stadium without feeling excluded or restricted in any way.

“The specific areas, which are envisaged to provide protection from weather conditions, should be located both at the top of the stands and at the back of the boxes, as well as close to the playing field, at a higher level, however, to ensure an adequate field of vision. Furthermore, they should provide easy and adequate access to the restrooms and refreshment areas, as well as to the exit gates in case of emergency.”

· Ramps and specially designed elevators for wheelchair users to allow them access to the upper rows of the stands and other shared areas.

· In existing stadiums and where the installation of a suitable conventional elevator is difficult, vertical lifting platforms or stair lifts should be provided to ensure access for people with disabilities to all key areas of the stadium.

· An audio description service of the match for spectators with visual impairments or hearing impairments, which should not be limited to a predetermined area of the stadium, but should provide a portable audio description system (via headphones) so that users of the service can choose where they want to sit to be close to their relatives and friends and among the fans of their team.

· In any case, the attendants of people with disabilities, besides being exempted from the ticket purchase obligation as highlighted by the relevant UN Committee, should have an available seat close to the person they are accompanying, to provide immediate and timely support or assistance that the person with a disability may need, especially in case of an emergency.

· Determination of a specific timetable with defined deadlines to identify and record all existing barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in football stadiums and to develop a plan for implementing necessary improvements within a specified timeframe.

The Commissioner’s Office made recommendations to the Cyprus Sports Organization (CSO), the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), and the Stadium Licensing Authority to take necessary actions so that people with disabilities can enjoy equal access to sports facilities, especially to football stadiums hosting First Division matches, on an equal basis with others.

The report highlights accessibility issues raised by the Cyprus Paraplegic Organization (CPO) regarding the new Limassol stadium, as well as other football stadiums where First Division matches are held.

New Partnership Between Ablebook App and McDonald’s Restaurants

We are pleased to announce the collaboration between McDonald’s and the Ablebook app, incorporating their 23 restaurants into its platform. This partnership aims to facilitate access and provide information for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

Ablebook is an innovative app available on Android and iOS devices that aims to improve accessibility and support people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups by offering information and services that make their daily lives easier.

McDonald’s restaurants offer a range of accessible facilities, such as designated parking spaces near entrances, ramps, accessible restrooms, and spacious areas for wheelchairs. Through this collaboration, Ablebook app users who visit McDonald’s restaurants can get information about accessible locations and request assistance if needed from the relevant staff. This ensures that all customers can enjoy their meals and moments without obstacles.

Our collaboration with McDonald’s restaurants is another step towards a more equal and open society for everyone. By providing facilities and services that meet the needs of people with disabilities, McDonald’s positively contributes to social progress and solidarity.

“The first National Strategy for Autism has been approved.”

The Cabinet proceeded today with the approval of the first National Strategy and Action Plan for Autism

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“The Cabinet progressed today with the approval of the first National Strategy and Action Plan for Autism, with Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Marilena Evangelou emphasizing that the implementation of the strategy will allow authorities to have a comprehensive approach and a real image of this disability, which presents increasing trends both internationally and in Cyprus.”

“In statements following the Cabinet meeting, Ms. Evangelou said that action for the implementation of the Strategy is beginning, with one of the first actions involving the creation of a national electronic platform for autism, as well as information programs, training, upgrading, and expansion of the services provided.”

“The establishment of the national strategy and action plan for autism separately from other disabilities was deemed necessary due to the increase in autism diagnoses both in our country and internationally, and because autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder characterized by varying degrees of difficulty, with diverse levels and gradations of symptoms and challenges,” explained Ms. Evangelou.

According to Ms. Evangelou, the National Strategy and Action Plan for Autism 2024 – 2028 includes 53 actions under 7 thematic pillars, following the life course of a child, an adult with autism, namely research, early detection and diagnosis, health and therapeutic intervention, early childhood and family intervention, education, social protection and independent living, employment, and participation in leisure, culture, and society.

She further emphasized that the importance of the national strategy lies in its ability to centralize all services related to autism under the umbrella of the national strategy for better coordination of actions and holistic addressing of needs as well as challenges.

“The action now begins,” she continued, “for the implementation of the strategy and Action Plan. Our first priority is to continue the operation of the National Committee, which I will convene very soon, the establishment of permanent subcommittees under the coordination of the Department of Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the systematic cooperation of all stakeholders, especially the organizations representing individuals with autism themselves.”

As she said, the coordinating body of the National Strategy is the Ministry of Social Welfare, and other ministries participate in it, such as the Ministries of Labor, Health, Education, Transportation, and Finance.

“We want to have a complete picture in Cyprus.”

Asked about autism cases in Cyprus, Ms. Evaggelou stated that according to data from the World Health Organization, 1 in 100 children or adults worldwide are diagnosed with autism, while in Cyprus, the recorded data from the Department of Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities reports about 2,000 cases.

She noted, however, that “one of the reasons for the need for this national strategy is to capture the true picture of the situation in the country because clearly the Department of Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry has the data of individuals who apply to the Department for the benefits or services it provides.”

So, she said, one of the goals of the national strategy is to have a true picture of the number and not only in terms of numbers but also what is provided to these individuals in terms of services, how they live, what treatment they follow, how their integration and activation in society are.

Ms. Evaggelou further explained that there is a wide spectrum of autism with different symptoms, needs, and challenges. “Therefore, there may be individuals who do not feel that they need support or services. However, we need to know the real picture that exists,” she added.

“I personally believe that there are more (people with autism), how many more and why they have not turned to the Department of Social Integration with Disabilities remains to be proven along the way,” she added.

At this point, Ms. Evaggelou also mentioned that “we are not starting from scratch,” as there are programs targeting people with autism. She referred to the “Aktida” program for preschool-aged children with autism, which intervenes immediately after diagnosis, offering psycho-social and educational support both to the individuals with autism and to their families.

She cited as an example that through the national strategy, there will be continuous training based on all new scientific data for professionals such as doctors, pediatricians, educators, and kindergarten teachers in schools and wherever there are children for the early diagnosis of autism. “Because early diagnosis and intervention matter,” she emphasized.

Ms. Evaggelou stated that as part of the Strategy, the organization of a national conference on autism is also planned for this coming autumn, which will be established annually.

Source: CNA

“Access Denied: Websites of European Political Parties Inaccessible to People with Disabilities”

The serious deficiencies in the accessibility of the websites of major European political parties make it very difficult for people with disabilities to be informed about the European Elections.

“People with disabilities were almost completely ignored by political parties on their websites in view of the EU elections, according to a report compiled by the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the independent non-profit Foundation Funka.”
“The main conclusion is that citizens with disabilities struggle to access the content and, therefore, are not adequately informed to exercise direct democracy.”

“The report analyzed the websites of the seven main European political families – the European People’s Party, the Party of European Socialists, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists, the European Greens, the European Left, and Identity and Democracy.”

“The main conclusion is that citizens with disabilities struggle to access the content and, therefore, are not adequately informed to exercise direct democracy.”

“According to the study, European political parties neglect their obligation to provide information to all voters, whether they have specific accessibility needs or not. In doing so, they create a barrier not only for people with disabilities but also for the democratic process itself. Our democratic systems and political procedures rely on citizens being informed when they vote. However, as this report shows, political parties seeking the votes of over 100 million Europeans with disabilities largely fail in their duty to provide accessible and reliable political information.”

“The results are very disappointing, but not surprising – they reflect the widespread lack of attention to information accessibility in the political world,” said Ioannis Vardakastanis, President of the EDF and the ESAmeA, to Euronews.”

“These findings at the European level may also indicate that national political parties face similar challenges, according to the central body representing the rights of 100 million people with disabilities in the EU, the EDF.”

“Political parties must ensure that their communication is accessible to every voter – including voters with disabilities,” added Mr. Vardakastanis.

“The party with the worst performance was the far-right Identity and Democracy, passing only four out of the seven criteria used for evaluating the websites. All the tested websites passed the test for automatic subtitles for deaf or hard of hearing users.”

“The EDF calls on the political parties of the EU and all political actors:”

  • “Website administrators need to be trained in the basic skills for accessible digital information.”
  • “They should use the European standard for accessible ICT (EN301549) in the procurement, design, and development of digital interfaces. The standard is free.”
  • “Users with disabilities should participate in the design, development, and testing of digital interfaces to ensure they work for everyone.”

“Finally, they encourage all political actors to actively involve organizations of people with disabilities in accordance with the updated motto of the disability movement: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us.'”
 

Autism – ADHD: What role do microbiota and antibiotics play in their appearance

The role of the gut appears significant in the emergence of neurodevelopmental disorders in children, according to recent study data published in Cell. Specifically, disrupted gut flora in the early years of life is linked to diagnoses such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) later in life, as revealed by the study led by researchers from the University of Florida and Linköping University.

This study is the first prospective study examining the composition of gut flora and a wide range of other factors in infants in relation to children’s neurological system development. Researchers identified many biological markers that appear to be related to future neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, communication disorder, and intellectual disability.

“The remarkable aspect of the work is that these biomarkers were found at birth in umbilical cord blood or in the child’s feces at the age of one, over a decade before the diagnosis,” said Dr. Eric W Triplett, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida in the United States, one of the study’s researchers.

The role of antibiotics

Autism: Turning the focus to parents with spectrum children – A psychologist explains

For the study, more than 16,000 children born between 1997 and 1999 were followed from birth to 20 years of age. Of these, 1,197 children, accounting for 7.3%, were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, communication disorder, or intellectual disability.

A large number of lifestyle and environmental factors were identified through repeated surveys conducted during the children’s upbringing. For some of the children, researchers analyzed substances in umbilical cord blood and bacteria in their feces at just one year of age.

“We found in the study that there are clear differences in gut flora as early as the first year of life between those who develop ASD or ADHD and those who do not. We found correlations with some factors affecting gut bacteria, such as antibiotic treatment in the child’s first year, which is associated with an increased risk of these diseases,” explained Dr. Ludvigsson, senior professor at the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at Linköping University, who led the study together with Dr. Triplett.

Children who had recurrent ear infections in their first year of life were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with a developmental neurological disorder later in life. It may not be the infection itself that is the culprit, but researchers speculate that there is a correlation with antibiotic treatment. As they found, the presence of Citrobacter bacteria or absence of Coprococcus bacteria increased the risk of future diagnosis.

A possible explanation is that antibiotic treatment may disrupt the composition of the gut flora in a way that contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders. This risk may increase the likelihood of diseases associated with the immune system, such as type 1 diabetes and pediatric rheumatism, as shown in previous studies.

Other environmental factors

The present study also confirms that the risk of developmental neurological diagnosis in children increases if parents smoke. Conversely, breastfeeding has a protective effect, according to the study. Specifically, from umbilical cord blood samples for the detection of various substances from metabolism, such as fatty acids and amino acids, it was found that children who were later diagnosed had low levels of several important fatty substances in the blood. One of these, linolenic acid, necessary for the formation of omega-3 fatty acids and with positive effects on the brain.

Although the research is in its early stages and involves only a portion of children, and more studies are needed, the discovery that many biomarkers for future neurodevelopmental disorders can be observed at a young age opens up the possibility of implementing long-term preventive measures.

“The Architecture of Disability: A Discussion with Architect David Gissen”

Reimagining a city from the perspective of disability is much more than creating ramps on sidewalks,” says architect David Gissen. As an architect with years of disability experience, he speaks about the need to reconsider the values that shape our cities and to broaden our view beyond the concept of accessibility to include notions related to the intersections of disability critique in architecture with environmentalism and postcolonial perspectives on the city.
 


Interview with Bella Okuya

Translation: Editorial team of pass-world.gr


David Gissen is a Professor of Architecture and Urban History at the Parsons School of Design at The New School. His new book, “The Architecture of Disability: Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes Beyond Accessibility,” presents a new way of thinking about the history of architecture and architectural theory, placing disability at the center and changing the way we see the everyday built environment.

David Gissen


Q: Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this book

A: I’ve spent my entire career in the world of architecture as a person with a disability. I am a survivor of pediatric bone cancer, underwent treatment here in New York in the 1980s. I am also an amputee.

I went to undergraduate architecture school as a person with a disability, partially using a wheelchair and crutches at the time. I went to college, did a Ph.D., was a curator, a professional, a practicing architect, and then returned to school to become an academic.

As someone with a long career in the world of architecture, I believe that ideas about debility, disability, and physical weakness are much more complex than simply making buildings more accessible.

The way we think about architectural history, architectural ideas about nature and the environment, the way architects create and design through architectural form, and the way cities urbanize and construct buildings are all intertwined with ideas about ability, debility, and disability.

I wanted to develop what I would call a disability architecture theory rather than just focusing on making architecture more practical for people with disabilities.
 

The genre of writing known as architectural theory interprets architectural history, the aesthetics of construction, and concepts about nature and the environment. My goal was to provide a critique from the perspective of disability on all these issues, especially on the way I learned, was encouraged to practice, and was encouraged to teach these ideas. Writing this book allowed me to express thoughts I had long held in one volume.

Q: Could you speak more about a key concept in the book, the “urbanization of impairment,” and how it relates to this theory?

A: Typically, contemporary critiques of cities for disability focus on ensuring greater access for people with disabilities to movement within urban spaces, such as sidewalks, roads, and public spaces. All of these, of course, are extremely important.
 

However, in my chapter “The Urbanization of Impairment,” I question whether the critique from the perspective of disability in the contemporary city should simply target access to the city as it is, or if it should reconsider some of the values embedded in urban spaces.

Jon Tyson/Unsplash


For example, many cities like New York and London manage water based on the European perception of hydrological management. The recent torrential rains in New York highlighted the limitations of our Western model of paved roads with curbs. There are various environmental critiques of roads and sidewalks that support alternative approaches to urban wastewater management.

There is an opportunity for people with disabilities to form alliances with environmentalists and postcolonial urban theorists who are redefining the streets. Reimagining traffic in urban spaces will likely reduce barriers experienced by people with disabilities and introduce a more nuanced approach to how cities are envisioned.
 

Disability activism often overlooks how navigating the city is governed by predetermined ideas about property rights and trespassing laws.

For example, when I walk along Long Street in New York – which is 950 feet long – and encounter a passage between two apartment buildings or buildings that would make my journey more accessible, I often see signs that say “no trespassing,” which hinder my ability to pass through.

This forces me to take a longer route around the block. It’s a simple example, but it underscores that while many disabled writers focus on sidewalks that determine our movement within cities – which is certainly true to some extent – it is primarily property rights, easements, and trespass laws that dictate urban navigation and determine the placement of sidewalks.
 

The critique of the city from the perspective of disability that I am writing about extends beyond the physical infrastructure and delves into the values ​​that are rooted in urban space. It questions ideas about property, urban mobility, hydrology, and environmentalism.
 

From my perspective, this entails the potential for an extensive political dialogue that transcends the scope of accessibility.

Josh Appel/Unsplash


Q: After reading your ideas about the “natural” – or what we consider “natural” – I saw my environment in a different way. What does it mean when you say that “nature is produced”?

A: I began my architectural career with a strong interest in architectural environmentalism, also known as the green movement in architecture, environmental movement in architecture, or sustainable architecture.

Over time, I became increasingly disillusioned with this movement. About two decades later, I realized that my disillusionment was connected to what I would describe as a form of “soft eugenics” – or an overemphasis on harnessing capability that I encountered in meetings, where architects proposed changing building materials to “revitalize” people. Some even proposed designing office buildings to enhance the health of workers and reduce sick days, ensuring the return on investment through the use of healthier materials.
 

I was troubled by the evaluation of elements of nature solely based on their capabilities, especially the concept of biocapacity. For example, trees were considered “good” because they absorb carbon and release oxygen, and certain species of shellfish were valued for their ability to clean up urban river waters. As someone who often feels incapable, I wondered who advocates for the “weak” aspects of nature.

Then I read “Concrete and Clay” by geographer Matthew Gandy. It focused on how cities produce nature both as a physical entity – such as Central Park, a fully designed landscape – and as an idea, assessing specific aspects of nature according to the demands of an industrial capitalist society.

The book was unlike anything else the environmental movement in architecture was concerned with. I applied to become Gandy’s doctoral student and spent six to seven years collaborating with him.

The architecture of disability reexamines much of this rationale, but from the perspective of a disability critique. I begin the book, Architecture of Disability, with a discussion of the national parks in the United States, particularly Yosemite. National parks like Yosemite are constructed spaces, designed to offer specific aesthetic qualities and experiences to visitors.
 

The earlier inhabitants, the Native Americans – who lived there for thousands of years – inhabited a very different landscape, which would resemble more of an agricultural landscape rather than the idea of wilderness that has been incorporated into it in the last 100 to 150 years.

The last twenty to thirty years have seen significant activism for increasing accessibility in these national parks. One of the questions I raise is whether advocating for increased accessibility in national parks is the right path for disability leadership in the United States.

Why don’t these leaders consider forming alliances with those who are reimagining the history of these spaces, seeking ways to weave together the land, landscapes, and resources with concepts of reconciliation and other forms of politics?
 

[…]


Excerpt from the article published in Public Seminar.

David Gissen is a Professor of Architecture and Urban History at the Parsons School of Design at The New School.

Bella Okuya is a candidate for an MFA in Photography at the Parsons School of Design.

Near miss call to disabled due to lack of sidewalk – “I could have been killed”

Independence and accessibility. That’s what Damien Handlan, a resident of DeSoto, Missouri, is asking for. After a bone infection in 2015 led to the amputation of his leg, he became confined to a wheelchair.

He never felt disabled himself. Only when he was forced to go onto the road because there was no sidewalk, and even received a warning from a local police officer.

“He stopped in front of me, essentially blocking my path. He got out of the car and came to tell me that I couldn’t be on the road. I told him there was no sidewalk,” says Damien Handlan.

The warning says he wasn’t moving with traffic, but he argues it would have been more dangerous to cross the road. “I could have been killed. You say you care about my safety and life. Then do something about it,” adds Damien, saying, “I don’t need you to pay for the rest of my life. I just want a sidewalk.”

Twin: New exoskeleton gives mobility to people with disabilities

A new robotic exoskeleton could allow individuals who have lost the ability to move their legs to stand up and even walk again. It can also help them walk independently, guiding their movements and keeping them upright as they participate in rehabilitation therapy.

Named Twin, the exoskeleton designed in Italy for the lower body was presented at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan. It is still in the prototype stage and is being developed by scientists from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) and the Istituto Nazionale Assicurazione Infortuni sul Lavoro (National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work).

Designed for use by patients with reduced or absent mobility in the lower body, it moves their legs through motors located at the knee and hip joints. These motors are powered by an integrated battery, which is said to last for about four hours of use per one hour of charging. The Twin can be used in three different operating modes. In Walk mode, intended for individuals who cannot use their legs at all, the exoskeleton moves the user’s legs on their behalf and assists them in sitting and standing up. The person still needs to use crutches for balance, as with other assistive exoskeletons.

Retrain mode is for patients who still have some mobility in their lower limbs. It allows them to walk on their own to the extent they can, but provides adjustable assistance when needed. Throughout the process, the exoskeleton guides them towards a predetermined optimal trajectory of leg movement.

Finally, there is TwinCare mode, intended for individuals who have full use of one leg but not the other. In this case, the exoskeleton enhances the movement of the affected leg to match that of the healthy leg. In all three modes, a physiotherapist or the user themselves can adjust walking parameters, such as step length/type and walking speed, using a wirelessly connected Android tablet.

According to its designers, two things that make Twin stand out from similar exoskeletons are the fact that it is made from lightweight materials – aluminum alloy instead of steel, for example – and that it features an articulated design allowing for the removal of components for transport or upgrade.

The 4 early signs – sos that we suffer from vertigo and we don’t know it.

It can occur at any age. Audiologists share the red “lines” that urgently signal that we should check our ears as soon as possible

While we often believe that hearing loss is something that only happens to much older people, this is not actually true.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in the United States, 1 in 8 people aged 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears, and approximately 28.8 million adults in the US could benefit from hearing aids. While difficulty in hearing may be the most obvious sign that we need to check our ears, it is not the only one.

We asked audiologists to share the main signs that it’s time to check our hearing. Here’s what they had to say:

Number 1: We struggle to follow conversations.

If we constantly find ourselves saying “what?” during conversations, it’s probably time to check our ears.

“Terry Zwolan, director of Audiology Access & Standard of Care for Cochlear Americas, says, ‘Making an effort to listen when we talk to others or to continue a conversation is very important. This may include struggling to hear when there is background noise and regularly asking people to repeat what they have said or often mishearing.'”

Number 2: We need to increase the volume of the sound on the television.

Whether others regularly tell us to turn down the volume of the television or we are surprised by the number we see on the volume control, this can be a sign that it’s time to check our hearing.

“We may find ourselves turning up the volume on the television or radio to a level louder than others prefer, or feel that people are mumbling (because of it),” he says.

Number 3: Our ears are ringing.

While ringing in the ears (or tinnitus) isn’t always a sign of hearing loss, it certainly can be at times. “Some people may experience persistent ‘ringing,’ buzzing, pain, or pressure in one or both ears,” says Zvolan. “Also, difficulties hearing from one ear may arise, it may be challenging to distinguish where sounds are coming from, or our own voice may sound different.”

Katie Campbell, an audiologist and Senior Director of Audiology at HearingLife Canada, emphasizes that experiencing symptoms like ringing in the ears is a good reason to consider getting a hearing test. “Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is usually associated with situations of hearing loss,” she states. “If it persists for an extended period, it’s a good idea to arrange for a hearing test.”

Number 4: We may struggle to hear the sounds of nature.

If we suddenly find it difficult to hear the sounds of nature, such as birds chirping or rainfall, this could be a red flag, according to Zvolan.