Partnership to Provide Hearing Aids Free to Special Olympics Athletes

Hear the World Foundation and Special Olympics Enter a Two Year Partnership

Jan 22, 2013, 07:00 ET from Special Olympics

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Jan. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 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 an 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, 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, 2,100 athletes from 107 nations will gather to compete during eight days in seven Olympic winter sports.

About the Hear the World Foundation
By supporting the charitable Hear the World Foundation, Sonova is campaigning for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss. As a leading manufacturer of hearing systems, the company feels socially responsible for contributing towards a world where everyone has the chance to enjoy good hearing. For instance, the Hear the World Foundation supports disadvantaged people with hearing loss around the world and gets involved in prevention and providing information. It focuses particularly on projects for children with hearing loss, to enable them to develop at the appropriate rate for their age. More than 60 famous ambassadors, including celebrities such as Placido Domingo, Annie Lennox, Sting and Joss Stone, champion the Hear the World Foundation. For further information, go to Connect with us at

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

SOURCE Special Olympics