New Partnership to Provide Hearing Aids Free to Special Olympics Athletes

April 06, 2011

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. –  Special Olympics athletes with hearing impairments will finally be able to enjoy the roars of the cheering crowds as they compete, thanks to a three-year agreement between Phonak US and the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program. As part of the national partnership, Phonak US will donate hearing aids to be distributed during free hearing screenings provided at Special Olympics events across the United States, as well as the ability for athletes to visit local hearing centers for fittings and calibrations of the devices. An official signing event is being held Friday, April 8, as part of the American Academy of Audiology conference in Chicago.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with an organization that exemplifies such aspiration and inspiration. It’s our long-term objective to effectively communicate a positive “no barriers” message as we strive to provide these deserving people the chance for more independence and a heightened quality of life through better hearing,” said Cathy Jones, Executive Director, US Hear the World Foundation.

Nearly one in three Special Olympics athletes in the United States fail basic hearing tests of the too few that are even tested.  Many of those that do have their hearing tested are candidates for hearing aids yet do not have access to care. 

“We are extremely proud and honored to work with such a well known and highly regarded organization,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “Our Movement’s athletes represent the most medically underserved population in the world. With Phonak’s help, we can offer them the health care intervention that they so badly need and deserve.”

The agreement will also allow Special Olympics and Phonak’s U.S. Hear the World Foundation to collaborate around joint fundraising and marketing initiatives to benefit the Healthy Hearing program across the United States.

About Phonak
Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of the Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 50 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing healthcare professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people’s hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life.

Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance. 

About Hear the World Foundation
The Hear the World Foundation is currently involved in numerous humanitarian outreach programs in the United States. Through these outreach programs, Hear the World Foundation aims to test, treat and support as many people as possible with hearing loss. The Hear the World Foundation leads frequent missions in which hearing health professionals and students provide evaluations, treatment and follow-up services as a means of improving long-term hearing health across various populations.

About Healthy Hearing
Healthy Hearing is one of seven medical disciplines that make up the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. Healthy Athletes is the primary health-related program for Special Olympics, providing free health screenings to athletes with intellectual disabilities in vision, hearing, oral health, healthy lifestyles, general fitness, podiatry, and sports physicals. The need for Healthy Athletes is great. Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all. Special Olympics has shown that many health concerns are more common and significant for people with intellectual disabilities. Among Special Olympics athletes in the United States, 30.8% fail hearing tests; 24.6% have obvious, untreated tooth decay; 22% have low bone density; and 15.3% have eye disease.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.

Media Contacts:

Karl Hejlik; Senior Manager, Health and Research Communications
Special Olympics
khejlik@specialolympics.org

Kimberly Rawn; Senior Manager, Marketing
Phonak LLC
Phone: 630-821-9586     

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