Martin Blecker: "At 8,000 delegates, EUHA congress the world's largest convention of its kind"

EUHA 2018

Martin Blecker

The 63rd EUHA congress will start this Wednesday, October 17, in Hanover. We spoke to Martin Blecker, EUHA president, about the 2018 edition.

What is the main task of the the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA)? Who are its members? How is it financed?

We see ourselves as the link between science, manufacturers, hearing aid acousticians and the persons that are engaged in the qualified provision of hearing systems to the hearing impaired. We network hearing aid acousticians, scientists and laymen. And we organize advanced vocational training and further qualification on all levels to provide the best possible provision to the benefit of the persons affected.

Our members primarily come from medium-sized acoustic enterprises which are often run by owners, with many of them looking back to a long family tradition. Some of these company members are representing the third generation already. Our financial resources are membership subscriptions and admission fees for the exhibition and various seminars and workshops.

The German Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians has always considered itself international. How do you justify this ambitious claim?

The skills and know-how for providing hearing systems to people with impaired hearing can no longer be limited to a national level. Our predecessors understood that many years ago, and therefore created a platform that is a combination of advanced vocational training and industrial exhibition, the EUHA Congress. The number of visitors speaks for itself, not least in terms of all the different countries they come from. Last year, we welcomed exhibitors and other guests from more than 90 countries, with some 30 to 40 percent of participants coming from non-German-speaking countries. At our Congress, speakers present their studies and findings that are important on national as well as international levels. Most of all, this Congress takes up issues which allow audiologists and acousticians to look beyond the horizons of routine and think outside the box.

What is the benefit for Congress visitors from abroad?

Due to the exchange of ideas and know-how their work will receive new inspiration, in general as well as in detail. With vocational, industrial and political discussions and seven tutorials and one Roundtable-Talk we can also learn from each other. I prefer sharing knowledge in lectures and workshops, combined with a personal exchange, no matter if this happens at the conference or the exhibition.

Are you satisfied with attendance numbers, from your country and from abroad?

As soon as you are satisfied you stop evolving. At the EUHA, we prefer to continue to develop, to evolve. We are pleased to hear that more than a third of all visitors are foreigners. Demand is high and we always endeavour to adjust our offer to it. For example, with five different workshops we adapt participants’ requests for more practical issues. And, of course, we are pleased to report on rising numbers of attendees. With its 8,000 delegates, the EUHA Congress has turned into the world’s largest convention of its kind.

There is a tendency towards cost-cutting on the convention of the American Academy of Audiology. Are you anticipating a similar development for the EUHA Congress?

It is very clear that we have to take a critical look at the costs. On the other hand, our efforts are aimed at presenting a Congress programme on the best possible level, including topical advanced vocational training, modern exhibition space, and many opportunities for meetings and personal discussions. Last but not least, there should be room for entertainment, too. After all, the participants are humans and as such we can reach them not only by the senses but also by emotions.

As every year, the EUHA has organised a nice supporting programme. Despite the German language, are foreigners welcome?

We all like to get together and relax after work. The evening for FGH (German association devoted to hearing health awareness) partners and the Congress Get-together are ideal opportunities to meet and make acquaintance with other professionals. This year’s Congress Get-together, themed “Go on board – back into the 90’ies” will be held at the Funpark on the exhibition grounds in Hanover on Thursday night. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to meet, have a chat, dance, and party in a casual atmosphere. Everything will be ready for an evening packed with action, good music, and culinary treats. It’s all about 90’ies this year. The night promises a live-band with more than 5.000 songs ready to play. The guests can choose what they want to hear and shape the evening, also as far as costumes are concerned. Guests at the Congress Get-Together are invited to dress up maritime or in the rim style of the 90’ies.

What are the main Congress issues this year?

Nothing less than the future of hearing aid acoustics! “Digitization” is the focus of the 2018 EUHA Congress! Congress attendees may look forward to a program featuring more than twenty lectures, seven tutorials, and a round table talk focusing on “The digital revolution: Opportunities and risks”. Subjects from the fields of audiology, science, industry, and hearing aid acoustics, will be presented, with internationally and nationally renowned speakers informing on current studies and future developments. After the grand opening ceremony, big issues such as listening effort, cognition and hearing, as well as the Freiburg monosyllabic speech test, will be the topics on Wednesday. Thursday will be dedicated to digitization. Teleaudiology, machine learning, and Otoscan as well as connectivity and data processing will play a major role. Tinnitus research, evaluation of hearing systems, bone conduction systems, impression techniques and much more will be on the agenda on Friday. Not only innovative technologies will be focused on but also how hearing aid acousticians can manage technology for the benefit of their customers.

Will there be anything special this year?

Of course, there will. This year, delegates will be able to use our online ticket shop. Tickets can be bought from home, reducing queuing times at the ticket counters, and giving delegates more time to spend at the conference and trade exhibition. EUHA-members can use the EUHA Lounge to chat and network in a quiet atmosphere. On Thursday, October 18, a roundtable will take place at 2:00 p.m. The topic will be ”Digital revolution, chances and risks“, Representatives from hearing aid acoustics, hearing aid industry, health insurances and other fields will discuss their views on digitization and telecare.

For all smartphone users: the Congress app, is ready to download! After the Congress, videos will be available in original-language versions; they can be watched on the EUHA website.

Photos: © EUHA Rechtnitz

Rainer Hüls, Audio Infos Germany