It is these concerning statistics that prompted hearing aid company Sonova to establish the charitable Hear the World Foundation in 2006. Hear the World works with groups, public institutions and private individuals to improve the quality of life and environments of people with hearing loss globally.
Hear the World envisions a planet in which each individual has the chance of good hearing and where those with hearing loss experience equal opportunities. They also aim to banish misguided taboos about wearing hearing aids. Their mission is supported by over 70 celebrity ambassadors, including Elle Macpherson, Jude Law, Julianne Moore, Kate Moss, Bryan Adams and Sting.
The foundation is especially interested in combating preventable hearing loss in children and supporting children with hearing loss in reaching their full potential. To date, thousands of kids have been helped by Hear the World in 49 countries.
Of the estimated 660,000 children who are born with hearing loss each year, a staggering amount do not have access to medical and audiological care. Unfortunately, the effects of untreated hearing loss are serious: children with untreated hearing loss often have trouble learning to speak and develop more slowly than their peers. Hearing aids allow these children to communicate, integrate into society and get a good education.
One of the standout initiatives from Hear the World is the ‘52 Children’ project. Each year, the foundation provides 52 disadvantaged children with the gift of better hearing. They receive hearing aids and professional aftercare by a local representative or a Sonova partner.
One child whose life was changed by the Hear the World Foundation is Bolivian four-year old Matias. The family of Matias saved their money for a very long time to purchase him a set of hearing aids. However, Matias’ new hearing aids were stolen from him in broad daylight, as hearing aids can be sold for a lot of money on the black market. Fortunately, a local Hear the World partner organisation presented Matias and 10 other hearing impaired children with brand new Phonak hearing aids. He is also now attending weekly speech therapy lessons to help him catch up with his peers.