- Published on 08 August 2023
Tobias Bartels has been settling into his post as Managing Director of the EUHA Congress since November 2022. He tells Audiology Worldnews why this year’s event in Nuremberg means a broadening of horizons.
Audiology Worldnews (AWN): Can the EUHA Congress quickly overcome the challenges set by the pandemic and push attendance figures up to pre-Covid levels? What are the organisers doing to help this recovery?
Tobias Bartels (TB): We’re working on increasing the numbers of attendees from last year. We do this through stronger national and international communication in the run-up to the event. To this end, we launched various social media campaigns and, from mid-May to mid-June, we conducted our large survey on the congress and exhibition. This year, there will be numerous innovations as we wish to implement the first findings of the survey this year, with more to follow in 2024.
AWN: What would UK audiologists and UK-based hearing health businessfolk get from visiting EUHA in 2023?
TB: I highly recommend the outstanding lecture programme – including presentations on digitisation, on AI in hearing aid acoustics, modern assistive listening devices, communication-friendly hearing systems, a new standard for the Freiburg monosyllabic word test as well as auditory training, and dementia and hearing loss. The Congress offers many opportunities for an exchange of ideas and communication – both on professional and personal levels! I also recommend visiting the Industry Exhibition with numerous international companies presenting their innovations.
AWN: When we spoke earlier this year, you indicated that EUHA would be aiming to increase its international appeal? How will you do this?
TB: There will be a partner country this year for the first time, with the aim of promoting international exchange. This will happen on a technical level, for instance at our roundtable discussion, and by including several speakers from Switzerland. It will also happen on a personal level: there will be an intensive exchange with Switzerland at the Congress Get-together. At the same time, we are introducing innovations so that attending the Congress will be even more effective for the participants. This year, for instance, the opening of the Congress will be held at 0900.
AWN: Plans to share the Congress each year with a different organising country seem like a good idea. With how many countries have you discussed this possibility, and what responses are you getting?
TB: Choosing Switzerland as our first partner country for the Congress was easy, as the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians launched a cooperation with AKUSTIKA, the Swiss professional association, at the beginning of May 2023. So, it was quite obvious to use these synergies for the Congress as well. Other partner countries will follow – we are already looking forward to choosing them! I’m sure that this will give our Congresses a very special flair and we can all broaden our horizons.
AWN: Before the pandemic, there was a small but growing presence from Chinese businesses in the EUHA exhibition space. Will 2023 in Nuremberg see the return of Asian audiology interests?
TB: Due to the pandemic, there were fewer visitors from Asia at last year’s Congress. We assume, and hope, to be able to welcome more visitors from this region this year. When we both meet at the Nuremberg convention centre, we might already have more insights.
AWN: Historically, how did a Congress in Germany come to be the centre of the audiology conference scene, rather than Denmark, for example, which has at least three major hearing device manufacturers?
TB: The EUHA (European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians) was founded in 1960 as a specialist professional organisation. At the time, it was still called Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (UHA), the main aim being to impart the technical know-how of fitting hearing systems.
The profession of hearing aid acousticians was just being founded in Germany and transfer of knowledge was the main focus. Events were held in the lecture halls of ENT clinics. An industry exhibition as we know it today did not exist in the beginning. The hearing system technology of the time was presented on tables covered with white tablecloths and set up in front of the lecture halls.
As the industry was growing, so was the need for qualification. The training courses that were offered on a regular basis eventually developed into today’s International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians, accompanied by the Industry Exhibition.
Over time, the event grew and became more and more relevant on an international level. Today, we are particularly pleased that the proportion of international delegates is steadily increasing. Incidentally, it is our plan to build on this through targeted international cooperation for the future.
AWN: The EUHA event alternates between two top purpose-built exhibition spaces, one in Nuremberg, the other in Hanover. Do the organisers see any benefits in holding the event in other cities, German or in a European partner territory?
TB: On the one hand, Hanover and Nuremberg are easy to reach from all over the world, on the other, these two convention centres exactly fit the requirements for our Congress: the exhibition hall and convention centre should be as close together as possible so that participants can easily reach both. In addition to the large lecture hall, we need various other rooms, e.g. for the tutorials, general meetings, and a press centre. The function rooms and infrastructure in Hanover and Nuremberg perfectly match our requirements.
AWN: Future Friday, which focuses on technological development and coming innovation, has clearly worked well for the Congress. Is the idea evolving, and will we notice any changes in 2023?
TB: Absolutely, Future Friday has been a real success! This year, we will debut another highlight. We are planning a special programme for young people aimed at familiarising them with the industry and the job profile of hearing aid acousticians, and getting them enthusiastic about it.
Therefore, pupils and apprentices will have free admission to the Congress on Friday. We will be offering four exciting lectures, not only dealing with the future of hearing aids, but also covering general trends in the fields of digitisation and AI. A successful mix. It’ll definitely be worth staying at the Congress on Friday.
© EUHA/Foto Rechtnitz Students will have free admission to the Congress on Future Friday.
AWN: What else might be new about EUHA 2023?
TB: In addition to the innovations already mentioned, there will be further novelties, depending on how our survey is evaluated. The special thing about this Congress of innovations will be the spirit. The latest research results, top speakers, and an excellent keynote speaker, coupled with industry innovations, ensure a great Congress experience.
What you need to know about the 67th International EUHA Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians:
Dates: October 18 to 20, 2023
Venue: Nuremberg Exhibition Centre
FUTURE FRIDAY is on October 20 and is all about the future. Trainees and students granted free admission. This year, for the first time, there are guided tours of the Industry Exhibition for trainees and students.
CONGRESS PROGRAMME: Click here.
Ticketshop: Click here.
Source: Audiology News UK issue 03 JULY-AUGUST 2023