Hearing access specialists
Hearing access specialists

Ideas for Ears is collaborating with researchers at University of Dundee on the development of a digital tool that will help to make group discussions more accessible to those with hearing loss. It is also expected to have benefits that extend beyond those with hearing loss.

The project involves use of highly innovative gamification techniques to model how people behave and communicate and to look at how technology can be used to alleviate challenges and problems that arise.  ‘Gamification’ describes the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity.

Researchers from the University’s Computing department will work with Ideas for Ears to investigate hearing access issues that arise particularly in events or workshops where multiple group discussions take place at the same time and often in the same room or space.

The aim is to help organisers and facilitators deliver discussions that are more accessible, fair, productive and representative.

Project lead Dr Michael Crabb said, “Taking an active role within meeting situations is a key factor in modern life and can include areas such as healthcare, education, social activities, civic engagement, and the workplace.

“When people play board games they may be communicating round a table with hidden objectives, common goals or other aspects that mean scenarios play out very similarly to a standard meeting. By modelling these interactions, as well as how these interactions fail, we aim to create more accessible meeting environments in the future.

“We hope that by carrying out this project we will be able understand more about the types of problems that can arise when communicating in group situations and then look at how technology can be used to help alleviate these issues. We are very excited to be working on this with Ideas for Ears and believe that the work we are doing together will have a large economic and societal impact within Scotland.”

Sally Shaw, founding director of Ideas for Ears, said, “Multiple group discussions that take place in the same room at the same time  can be incredibly challenging because of the noise levels generated, the way people are inclined to speak over the top of each other, and the difficulties in ensuring communication support is used effectively.

“The project with Dr Crabb’s team will help to formulate guidance that will aid communication access for those with hearing loss and other communication issues, as well as fairness of participation for everyone else, including those who are perhaps shy or less able to put forward their point in a group setting. The project has huge practical application and significant potential benefits for promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The project is funded by the Scottish Funding Council’s Interface initiative that seeks to connect businesses and universities in order to create innovative new products and ideas that will benefit the country’s economy.

10 responses to “Gamification project to assist hearing access”

    • Hello Peter, thanks for your message. It looks like it will be a really interesting project. The gamification activity is likely to take place in Dundee and/or the Forth Valley area. If that is near to where you are located then your involvement would undoubtedly be welcomed. Activity will unfold over the next few months. Let our director, Sally Shaw, know if you’re nearby. Best wishes, IFE Team

    • Hi Sally.
      I have set up Let’s Hear Salford designed to improve the hearing experience for those people living in Salford. It started when my rotary friend with hearing loss, didn’t enjoy Rotary because he couldn’t take part in our group discussions. We are at the moment checking all the hearing loops in the city and finding that many are not working and staff have no knowledge. I would love to be able to support your project and look forward to hearing about your progress. Mike Collier.

      • Hi Mike, your friend is far from alone in withdrawing from group activities because hearing access is overly difficult. It doesn’t need to be like this. Things can and should be better. We’ll be in touch with you directly because it would be terrific to collaborate with your Let’s Hear Salford activities to help you not just identify problems but get them resolved.

  1. Hi I would be very intarested in taking part to as I am a nurse and struggle every day of my life. I am living in England now Fleet was hopeing it would reach down south to at some point. I have just moved down from lanarkshire.


    • Hi Heather, the work we are doing is relevant across the UK. We’ll be in touch with you directly to see if there is anything helpful we can offer for the challenges you’re experiencing.

  2. I’m on verious groups and committees that involve meetings where there are either several people talking, or ‘breakout’ sessions with several tables all discussing in the same room. It’s very frustrating. I would like to be involved in any research you’re doing into making this easy for people with hearing loss.

    • Hi Liz, all the indications are that the numbers feeling the same frustration as you are enormous. We’re pleased to focus attention on the issues and to take practical action to resolve and improve things. If you’re geographically close enough to get involved in the project activity that would be terrific. If not, we’ll share things with you afterwards.

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