media release

Better hearing for 55 athletes


Staefa, Switzerland, February 14, 2013

The Hear the World Foundation makes a successful contribution at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea

On February 5, the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea came to a celebratory end. Over the course of seven days, Pyeongchang played host to over 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities, who had come from 107 nations to take part in these winter games.

During the Special Olympics World Winter Games, these athletes underwent a thorough health screening program, including an in depth hearing screening. The results revealed that 18.4 percent of all athletes tested were affected by hearing loss. The Hear the World Foundation donates high-quality Phonak hearing instruments to the participating athletes with aidable hearing loss and is arranging free follow-up care. 

Established in 2006 by the Sonova Group, the leading Swiss manufacturer of innovative hearing care solutions, the Hear the World Foundation campaigns for a world where everyone has a chance to experience good hearing. Against this background, the foundation has entered a two year partnership supporting the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing Program. 

Hearing-health-care for a medically underserved population

Almost a quarter of the participating athletes at Special Olympics are affected by hearing loss. Many of them do not wear a hearing instrument, because they cannot afford one and they do not have access to the necessary medical and audiological care in their home countries. The Special Olympics Healthy Hearing Program tackles this problem head on by offering the athletes comprehensive hearing screenings. This service is offered as part of the larger, multidisciplinary Healthy Athletes program, aimed at ensuring access to quality health services for all participating athletes. The Hear the World Foundation supports this program by donating high-quality Phonak hearing instruments to athletes with aidable hearing loss and organizing free follow-up care in the athletes’ respective home countries. Furthermore, local Phonak Volunteers supported Special Olympics on-site with their expertise.

Healthy Hearing results at a glance:

  • 1183 athletes aged between 8 and 64 years underwent a hearing screening. 
  • 218 athletes were diagnosed with hearing loss, which equates to 18.4 percent of the Special Olympics athletes. 
  • The Hear the World Foundation supplies high-quality Phonak hearing instruments to 55 athletes from 35 countries and is organizing follow-up care in their respective home countries. 3 Korean athletes with hearing loss were fitted on site at the Healthy Hearing venue, while vouchers for hearing aid fittings, batteries and follow-up care were given out for the remaining athletes.

“We are delighted to be able to help so many athletes improve their hearing and therefore greatly enhance their quality of life,” says Lukas Braunschweiler, CEO of Sonova Holding AG and President of the Hear the World Foundation.“ The Special Olympics are the world’s largest health program for people with intellectual disabilities. We are proud to be making a sustainable contribution to this program and thus supporting a medically underseved population”, Braunschweiler adds.

Various projects around the world

Since 2006, the Hear the World Foundation has supported over 45 projects on five continents and has already given hundreds of people with hearing loss the chance to enjoy a better quality of life.

Further information