MED-EL offers free online hearing test to address growing health issue of hearing loss among children

Hearing loss can impair development and academic achievement of school-age children when not identified early

TORONTO, Sept. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Students across Canada are being encouraged to test their hearing as part of MED-EL's national "Hearing to Excel" campaign to raise awareness around the growing health issue of hearing loss in Canada.

Timed to coincide with the new academic school year, the Hearing to Excel campaign is being led by MED-EL, a pioneer in the hearing space and provider of hearing implant systems worldwide, in partnership with VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children, one of the largest parent support organizations for families of children with hearing loss.

Canadian students of primary age will receive the opportunity to test their hearing using MED-EL's free online hearing test, an advanced, research-based test developed to assess speech and hearing abilities within minutes. In addition, all participants in the Hearing to Excel program will receive insights and advice from leading Canadian audiologists on how to protect their hearing.

"Hearing loss among young people in particular is a growing concern today amid the dramatic proliferation of mobile and home audio technology and we are thrilled to be bringing hearing health to the forefront and empowering children to take a more active role that will enhance their development and learning," said Lori Nikkel, executive director of VOICE. "Children with undiagnosed hearing loss face a tremendous risk in how well they reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally. In many cases children are misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities or behavioural problems, so hearing tests are a crucial step in identifying problems that can be missed."

Studies show that hearing loss can impair development and academic achievement. According to Statistics Canada, 13 per cent of children (up to age 14) have some form of hearing disability that can hinder speech and language development and learning.

Noise induced hearing loss has been on the rise and damaging noise exposure has been identified as a major cause in children and teenagers.  One study by Harvard Medical School researchers, for example, found that one in five teenagers now have some degree of hearing loss - an increase of 30% compared to the early 1990s.

"Early testing and detection of hearing impairment is crucial to educational success and we are urging everyone to take part in the Hearing to Excel program," said Nikkel.

The MED-EL online hearing test which will help parents identify potential hearing issues in their children is being made available free of charge at:  http://www.medel.com/ca/hearing-test/.

In addition to the test, VOICE representatives and leading audiologists will be visiting schools in Toronto, Montreal, and Surrey, B.C. throughout September and during October, which is Learning Disabilities Awareness month. They will share an interactive hearing experience with students to demonstrate the impact of hearing loss and reinforce the importance of hearing health.  Children will have the opportunity to understand how hearing works, how they can protect their hearing and why hearing is so important when it comes to learning and excelling in life.

"Hearing loss is tied to many communication and developmental issues that can affect learning. By reaching students and providing them with the resources that they need to protect their health, we are arming our youth for a healthier and more successful future," said MED-EL co-founder Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair. "Our partnership with VOICE provides an excellent opportunity to educate Canadians about the growing issue of hearing loss and how to protect our invaluable sense of hearing."

More information about the MED-EL online hearing test is available at http://www.medel.com/ca/hearing-test/.  For parents with children under seven, MED-EL offers SoundScape to sharpen a child's listening through fun, interactive games at www.medel.com/resources-for-success-soundscape/.

About VOICE
VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children has been advocating on behalf of children with hearing disabilities in Canada for the past 50 years. Established in the early '60s by a group of Toronto parents, VOICE offers support to families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing. The organization runs programs and services for children with hearing loss and their families in the four main areas of parent support, public education, advocacy and auditory-verbal therapy.

As a registered Canadian charity, VOICE has thrived over the years and has developed into one of the largest parent support organizations for families of children with hearing loss in Canada. VOICE maintains approximately 1,500 members, in 17 chapters within Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.

About MED-EL
Austria-based MED-EL Medical Electronics is a leading innovator and provider of hearing implant systems worldwide. The family-owned business is one of the pioneers in the industry. The two Austrian scientists Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair developed the world's first microelectronic-multichannel Cochlear-Implant in 1977. To date, the company has grown to more than 1400 employees around the world.

Today, MED-EL offers the widest range of implantable solutions worldwide to treat various degrees of hearing loss: cochlear and middle ear implant systems, EAS (combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation) hearing implant system and auditory brainstem implants as well as the world´s first active bone conduction implant.

SOURCE MED-EL



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