Phonak and Special Olympics Join Forces to Treat Hearing Loss Among Athletes

Provides Free Hearing Aids as Part of Healthy Hearing Program

Dec 06, 2012, 11:06 ET from Phonak

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  From Dec. 7-9, 1,100 athletes at the Southern California Special Olympics Games in Irvine and Fountain Valley will receive a very special holiday gift...hearing.  The Healthy Hearing Screening Program - part of the broader Healthy Athletes initiative sponsored by Special Olympics – is a critical initiative aimed at providing needed hearing healthcare to this medically underserved population. And the volunteer team of audiologists in Irvine /Fountain Valley will be extremely busy seeing the athletes.

Nearly 30 percent of Special Olympics athletes have hearing loss, but many have not had viable access to hearing healthcare until now.  This is why Phonak, the global leader in hearing instruments, has partnered with Special Olympics to raise awareness about hearing health among athletes and the greater community to improve everyone's quality of life.

About Healthy Hearing

Healthcare outcomes data show that people with intellectual disabilities are historically underserved when it comes to accessing certain basic healthcare needs. Nearly one in three Special Olympics athletes in the United States fail hearing screenings, making them candidates for further evaluation and in many cases, treatment through hearing aids. Unfortunately, many have never had their hearing tested or have been unable to afford hearing aids due to a lack of health insurance or access to care in general.

During key Special Olympics Games around the country, athletes undergo an onsite hearing screening as part of the Healthy Hearing program. Those who are identified with potential hearing loss will be directed to an audiologist in their local market who will provide further evaluation and treatment. For those who require them, they will receive Phonak hearing instruments free of charge.

Show Your Support

Julie Ball, M.A., F-AAA, CCC-A, an audiologist with Anaheim Hearing Center in California, is very passionate about her involvement. "In working with the Healthy Hearing program over the past two years, my desire has been the same for these athletes as for all people -- to make sure they receive the hearing healthcare they need," said Ball.   

"The Healthy Hearing program gives Special Olympics athletes access to the hearing screenings they desperately need. I've had the privilege of fitting an athlete with her first hearing aid.  It was a blessing to share in her joy as she was hearing the world in a new way." 

From being screened to competing, these athletes demonstrate a wonderful "no barriers" attitude that Julie Ball hopes will inspire other Americans to follow. More than 36 million Americans currently suffer from some degree of hearing loss, yet fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss seek treatment. "It's time to take the step and improve not only their hearing health but improve their communication with loved ones.  I encourage everyone to get their hearing checked.  If you have hearing loss, show some courage and commitment to bettering yourself by getting a hearing test," she concluded.

To show their spirit and support, Special Olympics encourages Irvine residents to take a free online hearing test to show their support for the partnership and address their hearing health.

About Phonak

Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing care professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people's hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life.

Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport 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 4 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 all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard to World Games. 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 Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;, and