26/05/2014 Wedemark/Hamburg, Germany

A Sennheiser survey in the EU shows: Cultural events are not accessible to everyone

Hearing disabilities affect people of all ages, and those concerned often do not take part in cultural events. That is the result of a representative Ipsos survey conducted for Sennheiser. In Britain, almost two out of every five people surveyed regularly forgo going to cultural events. The same is true of Spain and France. In Germany, the figure is 19 percent, while in Sweden it is around 23 percent. Sennheiser is working on a new streaming system that will make it possible for everyone to enjoy cultural offerings.

The Ipsos survey commissioned by Sennheiser included 1,018 people in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Sweden respectively. Respondents were asked about their hearing abilities. The shocking result: In Britain alone, almost four million people – that is 6.3 percent of the population – have hearing problems. In addition to those directly affected, 23 percent of those surveyed said they had people with hearing disabilities in their family or among their close friends. The survey clearly demonstrates that people of all ages are affected by hearing disabilities, not just the elderly. More than a third of the British people who reported hearing problems were younger than 60. That means hearing problems are not a marginal issue. Instead, they affect society as a whole.

Non-participation in cultural events
Restricted hearing also affects the way people spend their free time. Thirty-nine percent of the British survey respondents who reported a hearing disability also said that they regularly forgo going to cultural events. That is because they are dependent on the provision of the necessary equipment for audio description or hearing aids at cinemas, theaters or the opera. In Britain, almost 15 percent of those affected think that the provision of technical support at cultural events is insufficient.

Visits to cinemas, theater and the opera are possible in principle for those with hearing restrictions thanks to technical assistance. However, the lending of hearing aids is often difficult for users and event organizers. And such devices are not available everywhere. Where they are available, conspicuous devices are not always received positively by users. Of those surveyed in Britain, 52.8 percent of those with restricted hearing said they did not like to show their disability, and therefore rarely or never ask for assistance.

Sennheiser app for inclusive cinema, theater and opera
In view of the above, Sennheiser has employed its decades of audio experience and the latest streaming technologies to develop a solution that gives everyone access to cultural events, regardless of their abilities in terms of speech, hearing and vision. It can be easily integrated into existing systems and is simply to use. The special feature: The system uses an app and can transmit assistive listening and audio description to the smartphone of the user in real time.

Sennheiser has created a new company for the development of this and other innovative streaming technologies: Sennheiser Streaming Technologies GmbH (SST). “Sennheiser has been developing technical solutions in the fields of audiology and assistive listening since the early 1970s. This issue is very close to our hearts,” explains Jörn Erkau, Managing Director of SST. “Our aim was to provide an application that is not just technically advanced, but also meets the needs of users. That is why we developed our product in close cooperation with those affected by restricted hearing and vision.”

The new Sennheiser streaming technology is currently in the final phase of development and will be available beginning in fall 2014.

The representative survey was conducted by the research institution Ipsos in April 2014 and included 1,018 respondents aged 14 and up in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Sweden, respectively.


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Vorm geven aan de sound van morgen en voor zijn klanten unieke klankervaringen tot stand brengen… Dat is het doel waarrond wereldwijd alle medewerkers en partners van Sennheiser zich verenigen. De onderneming is opgericht in 1945 en uitgegroeid tot een van ’s werelds toonaangevende producenten van koptelefoons, microfoons en draadloze zendersystemen. Met zijn 21 verkoopfilialen en partnerrelaties van vele jaren is de groep actief in ruim 50 landen. Daarnaast telt hij nog eens eigen productiefaciliteiten in Duitsland, Ierland, Roemenië en de VS. Sinds 2013 staat met Daniel Sennheiser en Dr. Andreas Sennheiser de derde generatie van de familie aan het hoofd van de onderneming. In 2017 genereerde de Sennheiser-groep een omzet van in totaal € 667,7 miljoen.