Campus Hearing Acoustics at Special Olympics with auditory screenings for athletes

It was a colorful sports event promoting recognition and social participation for people with intellectual disabilities. A Campus Hearing Acoustics team volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games, which were held in Berlin from June 17 to 25, 2023, and offered auditory screenings for athletes as part of the “Healthy Hearing” program. afh Lecturers took turns, volunteering at a booth, which offered hearing tests during the world’s biggest, inclusive sports event. A total of 2,800 hearing tests were conducted.

In 2023 the Special Olympics World Games were held in Germany for the first time. 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from many different nations joined the World Games in Berlin in 26 different sports.

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program is closely connected with the sporting competition and the long-term goal of this initiative, is to improve the access to health care for people with intellectual disabilities. The program offers all participants free of charge health checks in seven different fields during the event and also provides information and recommendations for continued care. Healthy hearing plays a crucial role, as good hearing is a basic requirement for adequate communication and social integration. Under the program’s slogan „Healthy Hearing” free hearing screenings are offered. Since the program was launched in 1999, more than 2.4 million hearing tests were conducted worldwide.

„Being part of an Olympic event is always something very special. Right in the heart of Berlin, you feel the excitement in the whole city. The Healthy Athletes® Center, where the auditory screenings were offered, too, was well visited“, reports afh lecturer Arthur Holl, who was part of the Special Olympics World Games 2023 volunteers with his afh colleagues. Once again, the importance of this voluntary offer became obvious in 2023: During approximately 10% of the conducted hearing tests, a hearing-impairment, which had not been diagnosed or treated before, was determined. At last year’s national games, 23% of about 400 athletes, who took part in the auditory screenings were diagnosed with a hearing defect.

Since 2004, employees from the Campus Hearing Acoustics have volunteered and conducted auditory screenings for Special Olympics athletes during national games and they plan to continue their support during future Special Olympics events.