media release

Hearing Aids for Special Olympics Athletes


Washington DC / Staefa, Switzerland January 22, 2013

Hear the World Foundation and Special Olympics enter a two year partnership

 Special Olympics athletes with hearing impairments will finally be able to enjoy the roars of the cheering crowds as they compete, thanks to a two-year agreement between the Swiss Hear the World Foundation and the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program.

As part of the global partnership, the Hear the World Foundation will donate hearing aids to be distributed after free hearing screenings provided at Special Olympics events, as well as the ability for athletes to visit local hearing centers for fittings and calibrations of the devices. 

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. It focuses particularly on supporting children with hearing loss, allowing them to develop at an age-appropriate rate. Against this background, the foundation is now supporting the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing Program. “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 Lukas Braunschweiler, CEO of Sonova Holding AG and president of the Hear the World Foundation.

Hearing screenings, hearing instruments and follow-up 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 tackle 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, organizing free follow-up care in the athletes’ respective home countries and providing expertise on site by qualified employees from the respective local subsidiary.

“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 the help of the Hear the World Foundation, we can offer them the health care intervention that they so badly need and deserve.”

Next event: World Winter Games Pyeongchang

After successful partnerships at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 in Athens and after supporting various local Special Olympic Games, Special Olympics and the Hear the World Foundation are proud to formally enter a two year partnership program with the aim of creating a network to enable an increasing number of athletes to have improved hearing in future. At the World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea starting on January 29, the partnership will officially begin. In Pyeongchang, 2100 athletes from 107 nations will gather to compete during eight days in seven Olympic winter sports.