Weekly update: 26 January 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

As Amanda is busy connecting through Peer to Peer support meetings in the Wellington region we bring you a very short update this week. We find it hard to believe that we are almost a month into 2024 and a year on from our last seminar in Ōtautahi, Christchurch, however your Board has hit the ground running and is preparing for a big year ahead, as well as the next big event in 2025. We’ll keep you updated here, so please let us know if you know people that might be interested in what we do, but don’t know about us. It’s all about being seen, heard and connected.


New Solution Trains the Brain to Overcome Tinnitus

This article appeared on TheHearingReview.com on January 10, 2024. A link to The Hearing Review website has been included at the conclusion of this article. The article has also been shared on the Blind Discuss List.

An international research team has shown that the debilitating impact of tinnitus can be effectively reduced in just weeks by a training course and sound therapy delivered via a smartphone app.

The team from Australian, New Zealand, French, and Belgian universities report these findings in Frontiers in Audiology and Otology.

The solution offers some hope for millions affected by tinnitus who have run out of alternate options or can’t afford the costs of specialist support, the researchers say. The initial trial worked with 30 sufferers, of whom almost two-thirds experienced a “clinically significant improvement.” The team is now planning larger trials in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the University College London Hospital.

The app, MindEar, is available for individuals to trial for themselves on a smartphone.

“About 1.5 million people in Australia, 4 million in the UK and 20 million in the USA have severe tinnitus,” says Fabrice Bardy, PhD, an audiologist at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland and lead author of the paper.

Tinnitus is common, affecting up to one in four people. Older adults mostly experience it but can appear in children. For some, it goes away without intervention. For others, it can be debilitatingly life-changing: affecting hearing, mood, concentration, sleep, and in severe cases, causing anxiety or depression.

“One of the most common misconceptions about tinnitus is that there is nothing you can do about it; that you just have to live with it. This is simply not true. Professional help from those with expertise in tinnitus support can reduce the fear and anxiety attached to the sound patient’s experience,” Bardy says.

Bardy is also co-founder of MindEar, a company set up to commercialize the MindEar technology.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy is known to help people with tinnitus, but it requires a trained psychologist. That’s expensive, and often difficult to access,” says Professor Suzanne Purdy, professor of psychology at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland. “MindEar uses a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and relaxation exercises as well as sound therapy to help you train your brain’s reaction so that we can tune out tinnitus. The sound you perceive fades in the background and is much less bothersome.”

According to Bardy, the aforementioned trial observed that two-thirds of users of the chatbot saw improvement after 16 weeks. “This was shortened to only eight weeks when patients additionally had access to an online psychologist,” Bardy added.

New Solution Trains the Brain to Overcome Tinnitus (The Hearing Review)

There are many other articles which may be of interest on the Hearing Review website linked below.

The Hearing Review


Upcoming webinar: Beyond Existence: Exploring and Living Life

Wednesday 31st January 2024.

Through our connections within Deafblind International we have become aware of a webinar on Families with Usher Syndrome in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Dr Ismael Byaruhanga.

The webinar takes place at 4:30pm Central European Time, which is 4:30am on Thursday 1 February in New Zealand. Dr Ismael Byaruhanga, Centre for Education and Community Based Rehabilitation, DRC

The webinar is only available to ADBN members and access to the webinar needs to be arranged in advance. Please let us know if you wish to be connected to the organiser for more information, or to register your interest in attending by emailing Sarah at boardsecretary@deafblindassociation.nz.

Dr Ismael Byaruhanga is an audiologist and the Executive Director Centre for Education and Community Based Rehabilitation, DRC. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Audiology and Public Health Otology (University of Nairobi), a Master’s degree in Special Needs Education (Kenyatta University, Kenya), a Master’s Degree in Deafblindness (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), and a PhD (University of Cologne, Germany). Ismael has over 16 years’ experience, with specialist skills in paediatric audiology, deafblind communication video analysis and program implementation, and has published in the Journal of Deafblind Studies on Communication and the audiological professional press (BATOD).

In this webinar, Ismael will present on his work with families in the DRC who are deafblind owing to Usher syndrome, including his work on modes of communication. Ismael hypothesises that there is a new form of Usher syndrome gene mutation, with high chance of 50 and 100% of hereditary cases.

As usual, event reminders and TellMe phone numbers follow.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,
Sarah on behalf of Amanda


Event reminders

Touch Compass presents AIGA at Auckland Arts Festival March 2024

AIGA (the Samoan word for family/whanau) is a World Premiere of a new ground-breaking Disability-led, Pasifika-led work of theatre exploring personal identity, life’s struggles and triumphs, family and desire. Details were provided in 24 November update.

24 November update

25 to 31 May 2024, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – International Council on English Braille 8th General Assembly

June 2024 Deafblind Awareness month – Yarn bombing

#DbIYarnBombing2024 – information was provided in 21 January update.

21 January update

2024 Activity Deafblind International Youth Network (DbIYN)

Monday 30th September to Friday 4 October in Disneyland Paris.

Expression of Interest: Please contact simon.allison@sense.org.uk.


Ongoing – Entertainment with Able

Able is a not-for-profit organisation working towards a more inclusive Aotearoa, believing everyone should be able to access news, entertainment and culture. Funded by NZ On Air, they’re Aotearoa’s leading provider of media access services, including captioning services, subtitling and audio description.

Listings are available at the following browser links.

A link to Able’s website to subscribe to the weekly newsletter with listings and picks of the week follows.



Deafblind Association New Zealand access to TellMe

See TellMe numbers for your area


End of report and this week’s update.

Amanda Stevens
Executive Officer
Taringa Turi Kāpō Rōpū
Deafblind Association New Zealand