The Hear the World Foundation is committed to improve the quality of life and promote equal opportunities for people with hearing loss globally. The Foundation has a special focus on projects that support children reach their development milestones and realize their full potential in life regardless of their hearing loss.
The earlier a child’s hearing loss is detected and managed accordingly, the better chance that child will have of thriving at school. This is particularly important in a country like Uganda where, with a good 50% of the population under the age of 14, the future belongs to well-educated girls and boys.
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Not everyone in Panama is fortunate enough to benefit from the country’s flourishing economy – especially not children and young people with hearing loss. A Panamanian organization is therefore campaigning vigorously to give these people a better quality of life and prevent them from becoming isolated.
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615 children are currently being taught at the Eduplex School in the South African city of Pretoria. 113 of them suffer from hearing loss – but that poses no problem at all here! The use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM systems ensures that lessons run smoothly and children with hearing loss can learn alongside classmates with no hearing impairment.
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When parents discover that their child has a loss of hearing, scores of questions immediately spring to mind. Many of them are overwhelmed at first – and who better to contact for support than other parents who already have years of experience in dealing with exactly the same problems?
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The US healthcare system is regarded as one of the most expensive in the world, and 45.7 million Americans do not have health insurance. A university in Tennessee is committed to providing audiological examinations and effective treatment with hearing aids to people living in remote parts of the country in particular.
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Do used hearing aids simply get thrown away? Are audiometers, otoscopes and other audiological devices from clinics disposed of without a second thought? There is an alternative option – as demonstrated by a British organization, which recycles and repairs audiological equipment and sends it to nine developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India.
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The organization “Sound Seekers” has been working to support children with hearing loss in the Gambia, Africa’s smallest country, since 2007. One audiologist recently spent six weeks there training local staff, and thus ensuring the long-term development of the project.
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Providing support to children with hearing loss – ranging from newborns to five-year-olds – is the main focus of a Canadian organization that offers both effective help for parents and advanced training for specialist staff in the Canadian provinces.
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The Special Olympics are the world’s biggest sport movement, officially recognised by the Olympic Committee (IOC), for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities. Over 3.5 million children, young people and adults take part in the sporting activities and competitions.
With the "52 Children" project the Hear the World Foundation to provides 52 disadvantaged children per year from around the world with the gift of better hearing. These children will not only receive hearing aids, but professional aftercare will be provided by a local representative or a Phonak partner.
In close collaboration with the German association, Cargo Human Care, the Hear the World Foundation established a hearing center in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, in 2008. Not only is a medical center supported here, hearing aids are also donated and a local audiologist who professionally fits the hearing aids and performs regular follow-up examinations is on the books. In addition, the commitment also includes the Jabali Kindergarten and the Joymereen School for the Deaf in Nairobi, where children with hearing loss are granted a sound education.
17-year old Yerko DiFonis from Chile has been blind with hearing loss since birth. Despite his constraint, he is considered to be an extraordinary musical talent. When he plays piano, he sees the world through his ears. The Hear the World Foundation financially promotes his talent and supports his training.
In honor of Dr. Judith Gravel, who passed away in 2008, the Hear the World Foundation has set up a fellowship scheme for outstanding audiology students in collaboration with the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of North Carolina, USA. The fellowship includes an annual grant of 15,000 US dollars.
The Arabkir Hospital in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, has been receiving extensive support from the Children’s University Hospital in Zurich for twenty years. The Swiss colleagues constitute an indispensable partner for the Armenian children’s hospital, as the small country has already had to surmount many hurdles in its history: an earthquake that left 25,000 dead, a difficult path into independence and an economic embargo. A functioning health insurance system is still lacking today. 60 per cent of the health care expenditure has to be paid out of the population’s own pocket. The Hear the World Foundation has been financially supporting the partnership since 2010 and regularly donates new hearing aids.
Since 2010 the Hear the World Foundation has been supporting the Australian Organisation EARS, which has a highly motivated and committed employee in the Dominican Republic in the shape of Donna Carkeet. The Hear the World Foundation contributes financial resources to enable future audiologists to be trained and a good technological standard for audiological diagnosis and subsequent care to be established.
Even though the Vietnamese economy has developed at a record speed in recent years and the government has finally created a legal basis in order to integrate children with handicaps in society, many attempts fail due to the severely limited budget. Children with hearing loss receive better support in the Ha Giang Welfare Center for Handicapped Children, thanks to a joint project of Caritas Switzerland and the Hear the World Foundation. Children are allowed to stay in the home for a maximum of two years. During that time they are thoroughly examined, supplied with a hearing aid and – in addition to normal school lessons – receive individual support lessons and speech therapy.
The medical care in remote villages in Guatemala is inadequate at best. Particularly affected by this is the Maya population group, which constitutes 65% and thus the majority of the rural population. Professional help is urgently required there but can only be provided inadequately and irregularly, if at all. Thus, for example, hearing damage often remains undetected and untreated, which in turn means that the development of affected children is considerably impaired. As a result, school lessons and an associated development in keeping with their age group are only possible to a limited extent for many such children, if at all.
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School no. 203 for children with hearing loss was founded in Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi, almost 90 years ago. The approx. 200 students between six and 20 years old mainly come from impoverished families and live, to some extent, in the affiliated boarding school. Even if great importance is attached to the family in Georgia, there are still numerous desperate and penniless parents who see no other way out than to give their children away due to their handicap.
An Australian couple is performing truly pioneering work in the southern African country of Malawi. In a place where the majority of the 14 million population lives on less than one US dollar a day and no comprehensive professional audiological care and rehabilitation is available, the couple has established a small clinic and training center specifically for people with hearing loss and those working in this health and rehabilitation field.
Providing the best possible training for the next generation of professionals – this is the aim of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, which awards an annual fellowship to pediatric audiology students as well as a teaching post for outstanding lecturers.
The Hear 2day information campaign of the Grow Smart Foundation is intended to inform Australian children about the topic of hearing loss in a one-hour workshop. The Foundation provides the necessary support for the work-shop.
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1,800 people live in the north of the Canadian province of Ontario. Cases of hearing impairment are disproportionately frequent here, yet the medical and audiological care available is far from sufficient. A team from Canada’s Western University is working on improving the situation in this remote region.
Canada is the second largest country on earth, but what people in densely populated Europe associate with great freedom often means loneliness and isolation for Canadian children with hearing loss, as they hardly ever meet any other children with the same handicap as they have. They are usually the only children in their school with a hearing aid. Thus, an organization such as the Northern BC Children and Families Hearing Society is all the more important for such children. The Hear the World Foundation provides them with active support.
Hearing loss in countries such as Cambodia has many causes. They range from incorrectly treated inflammations of the middle ear, overdosed malaria medications via acoustic trauma due to landmines and culminate in damage to the cochlea nerve in cases of leprosy. Together with the Hear the World Foundation, the aim of the All Ears Cambodia (AEC) Organisation is to decisively improve the healthy hearing of 14 million Cambodians.
The Hear the World Foundation donates 50 hearing instruments with a total value of more than CHF 100'000.- to children and young people with a hearing loss from Klong Toey, one of the biggest slums in Bangkok. The Swiss Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter formally presented the donation during his visit to Bangkok in November 2012.
Three physicians from Nigeria, Malawi and South Africa want to improve the care of people with hearing loss in Africa. The Hearing Health Care Consortium aims to enable the transfer of audiological knowledge via the establishment of a telemedicine network. The project receives financial support from the foundation.
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Cite Soleil in Haiti numbers among the slums with the worst criminality rates in the world. Danger primarily sets in once the sun goes down – and especially for people with hearing loss, which is why the Haiti Deaf Community has received financial support to install solar lighting to ensure that visual communication can also take place at night.
Many families in Kalamazoo Country live below the poverty level. Audiology students in the Kalamazoo Poverty Reduction Initiative combat this and supply the penniless with food, clothing, medicine and hearing tests. To promote and further expand the project, financial support is provided.
Learning the most fundamental principles in life effortlessly. That's the requirement of playgrounds for children with reduced hearing in the English Speech Language and Hearing Centre in London, which receives financial support. The intention is to stimulate the sensory abilities via various materials, sounds and symbols.
The "Facts in Action international" non-profit organization wants to sensitize Kenyan craftsmen who are exposed to extremely high noise levels due to their profession. The project aims to raise awareness of the danger of noise-related hardness of hearing and to motivate the craftsmen to protect their hearing.
An audiology student at Western University, Canada, as well as an experienced audiologist travel to Attawapiskat (Canada) every year to offer hearing tests for children and adults in this remote, isolated place. The project receives financial support from the Hear the World Foundation.
1,000 children with hearing loss have been benefiting to date from a project initiated in Vietnam by the American Paige Stringer. Affected by hearing loss herself, for the past three years the young woman has been committed to ensuring that Vietnamese children are able to achieve their full educational and personality potential.
Great Britain is now also following the trend of integrating students with reduced hearing in primary schools. The aim is to promote the social interaction between children with handicaps and those without: an expedient approach from which both sides benefit. Yet, no one knows better than the affected children themselves how it feels to always be the only one among lots of hearing children who are able to communicate with each other with no complications. A child who often only understands half of what the other children are saying to each other in the playground can quickly feel excluded.
Students with reduced hearing are unable to make friends in public schools and universities via sign language, which is why the Mary Hare School attaches great importance to the correct learning of the spoken language. The school plus boarding school for 240 children with hearing loss is located 80 kilometers west of London and is the most important place of refuge for children with reduced hearing in the entire country. A few children even come here from abroad in order to benefit from the school’s excellent reputation and the impressive results.
Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and The Bahamas – what sounds like a list of favorite holiday destinations are the campuses of the only university in the world with locations in four different countries. The University of the West Indies (UWI), founded in 1962, is the oldest university in the Caribbean and the only regional academic education to focus its curriculum on the needs of the Caribbean countries. Even though the tradition-steeped University of the West Indies has more than 40,000 registered students and produces 6,000 graduates annually, there is still no education for audiologists available there. Although competent audiologists are urgently needed in the Caribbean countries, to date no one has been able to learn the profession there. The Jamaican physician, Prof. Maureen Samms-Vaughan, wanted to change that.
Rwanda, the “land of a thousand hills”, is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Civil war and genocide – those are the two buzzwords associated with Rwanda. 800,000 people died and two million were expelled when the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi escalated in 1994. The children particularly are still suffering to this date from the consequences of war. According to information from Unicef, approximately 600,000 children are growing up in extreme poverty. Many of them have to survive alone without parents in “children’s households”.
The state of general medical care in Fiji cannot be compared with health care in industrial countries. In Germany, for instance, 337 inhabitants share one physician, whereas the ratio is 2100:1 in Fiji. Up to two years ago any treatment of hearing loss was scarcely imaginable. On the one hand there was a lack of physicians with the relevant training at their command; on the other hand the technical equipment needed to even enable a diagnosis to be made was unavailable.
Quinine still continues to be part of the standard therapy for malaria. An inexpensive and widespread medication – but with a major disadvantage: many people are unaware that in the wrong dosage quinine can adversely affect hearing ability and even cause deafness. Thus, an above-average number of inhabitants in Uganda are affected by hearing loss.
For six days the summer camp of the Youth Section of the German Hearing Loss Federation allows young people and adults aged 14 to 35 years old to compare notes with people in the same situation in life. For once they belong to the majority rather than the minority. No one has to be considerate of them. For once they are able to feel as if they are one among many.
In a short film jointly financed by the Hear the World Foundation, the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind (SZB) provides information on the living situation of deaf-blind people in Switzerland. It is the first Swiss study on this topic.
In conjunction with the Red Bird Mission, the Hear the World Foundation cares for people with hearing loss in Appalachia, one of the poorest regions in the USA. It is supported by acousticians who perform hearing tests and fit hearing aids at no charge.
The Swiss parents' organization SVEHK organizes an annual meeting for children with hearing loss and their parents. The main focus is on exchanging experiences with others who are affected. The Hear the World Foundation supported the occasion.
The Centro de Identificación de la Hipoacusia Infantil offers hearing tests, diagnosis and treatment for babies and small children in the northern province of Buenos Aires (Argentina). Its commitment was rewarded by the Richard Seewald Award in 2009. The prize money was invested in the construction of a modern facility.
Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan has made the Al-Amal-School for children with hearing loss an affair of the heart. She would like to improve the learning environment to offer the children an optimal future. To enable this goal to be achieved the school was supplied with hearing aids and FM systems.
Without the ability to hear, life in poverty is almost pre-programmed for children in Mauritius. That's where the Gonzague Pierre Louis Special Learning Center intervenes and helps children and young people with restricted hearing and seeing abilities. The Hear the World Foundation financed the school's extension.
The aim in the Dominican Grimley School for Kinder with reduced hearing in Cape Town (South Africa) is for every student to learn to listen. To this end, the Hear the World Foundation equipped the school with FM systems and 28 children received the corresponding hearing aids.
A concept in the shape of the “Sound Sense Program” was developed in 2005, in order to create awareness among children at primary schools in Canada of the protection of their hearing and to warn them of the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. For this purpose, the initiators travel through the entire country with the support of the Hear the World Foundation, to ensure that the “iPod generation” can preserve their hearing.
Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, which is why the care of people with hearing loss is poor. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and thanks to the Foundation's support, the Sound Seekers organization improves the Zambia Hark program of hearing test, diagnosis and treatments.
The University of Canterbury has developed a computer-aided training program for perceiving tone pitches. This is intended to serve people with hearing aids or cochlear implants. The Foundation was also involved in the software development.
The "Silent Drum" film project receives financial support from the Hear the World Foundation and wants to transport the audience to a world of silence and African sounds. The film is intended to raise awareness about the situation of children with hearing loss in a developing country.
The proceeds from an auction of artfully designed lucky pigs in Zurich (Switzerland) was invested in a development project in Namibia. The money goes to the support group of the "CLaSH" organization, which supports children with hearing loss.
Those affected often conceal their hearing loss at the workplace. Researchers at the Université de Montréal & University of Western Ontario investigated the reasons behind this. To enable the study to be initiated they received financial support from the Hear the World Foundation.
The Brazilian organization Sorocaba Association for Hearing Impaired received the first Richard Seewald Award, endowed with USD 20,000, in 2008. It won it for its commitment to research on reduced hearing in children. The organization also offers residents of São Paulo adequate and affordable audiological care.
Despite suffering from the Usher Syndrome, US American Bill Barkeley knows no bounds. He is realizing his dreams, with the aim of raising awareness for his illness. To this end, the Hear the World Foundation provided the passionate adventurer with special hearing aids and FM systems.
The Landenhof Project shows that people with reduced hearing can still have musical talent. The school's steel band promotes communal music playing of the children and young people who are hard of hearing. The band received financial support in the form of three new drums.
The Moscow kindergarten of the GOU-Center Doschkolnoe Detstvo was equipped with state-of-the-art hearing and FM systems. Auxiliary aid allows the children with reduced hearing to improve their auditive abilities more rapidly and easily, which benefits their speech development.
Hearing music for the first time - this happens to most people when they are still babies. For 29 Eritrean children and young people with severe hearing loss, music was the biggest highlight when they received their hearing aids. The Hear the World Foundation made this possible in collaboration with the SUKE Organization.