Dear Colleagues and Friends, a Chara!
Thank-you for this opportunity to represent European Audiology Societies from my ‘Clinical Coalface’ on the Western Edge of Europe. I have represented Ireland at EFAS, on and off, for many years. I served as General Secretary in 2003 in Crete, and then my European voyage took me to many beautiful historic areas. Huge professional changes occurred over those years. In that short time, unprecendented ‘globalisation’ and ‘miniaturisation’ have both continued apace, and of course within Audiology. In Istanbul 2015, 44 countries were represented among delegates from across the world, all interested in contributing to international knowledge of hearing and balance. That’s alot of communication opportunities amongst friends and colleagues – and we must make the most of these ‘face-to-face’ discussions. Audiologists still work with real people and often seek ways to improve communication; the huge potential of brain training and neural plasticity means there may be slightly different, more focussed ways of recovering viable skills for those with hearing loss in future. Use it or lose it, they say!
It was hugely encouraging to see the positive impact of EFAS General Audiologist degree programme ideals about which I presented 12 years ago, coming to fruition with the Graduation of Turkish Audiologists at the last EFAS opening ceremony. In Ireland, University College Cork launched a new Masters programme in Audiology in 2015, of which we will be very proud when EFAS representatives gather for an academic collaboration in September 2016. We should all remember the old proverb that a ‘student who listens gains more than a sage who speaks’, but no doubt we will still all want to kiss the Blarney Stone! We Audiologists must listen too – it is the keystone of our clinical profession. ‘Time and tide wait for no man’ – but all these new Apps and online chat forums impact our face to face communication skills in the young especially – whether normal hearing or hearing impaired. EFAS could well be a key EU
research collaborator into such phenomena, by bringing cross-border screening and audiology populations within range, for comparative study. But of course our local Audiology service demands must grow from a firm evidence base and change to suit client need. With that thought, I would also like to welcome our new Vice-President, Francoise Artieres from Montpelier, France, who will no doubt bring some ‘Gallic flair’ to the EFAS Board. And I will also bid ‘Adieu’ to Kurt Stephan, who is now stepping down from the Board, with best wishes.
Since my time as a Teacher of the Deaf in the late 1980s, prospects for profoundly deaf children have transformed with technology, Newborn Hearing Screening and Cochlear Implantation; understanding of genetics, neurology and those endless new gadgets. World travel is our norm, online seminars and real conferences have increased exponentially. It is an ideal time to support those Pan-European Screening ideals, and I hope to promote this during my tenure. So, I would love to meet again in Interlaken 2016 to share research or ideas, new EU Screening projects. So please, collaborate and educate. Above all, imagine that together, we can Climb every Mountain! Slan go foill,
Dr Theresa Pitt, EFAS President