Special Olympics Athletes Get the Gift of Hearing

Hundreds of Athletes Undergo Hearing Screening;

Free Hearing Aids Courtesy of Phonak and the Hear the World Foundation

Dec 17, 2013, 14:15 ET from Phonak

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WARRENVILLE, Ill., Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  Another successful Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) Fall Games is on the record books, but the work to further support the athletes is just beginning. Hundreds of athletes underwent hearing screenings over the weekend through the Healthy Hearing Screening Program; part of the broader Healthy Athletes initiative, sponsored by Phonak, the global leader in hearing instruments, and the charitable Hear the World Foundation. Those athletes who failed the hearing screening will receive hearing aids free of charge, from Phonak, giving athletes the greatest gift of all- the ability to hear.

The Healthy Hearing Screening Program is a critical initiative aimed at providing needed hearing healthcare to this medically underserved population. Nearly 30 percent of Special Olympics athletes are found to have hearing loss, but many have not had viable access to hearing healthcare until now.

More than 40 volunteers from Phonak and SoCal Sonus, a hearing healthcare provider with 29 clinics throughout Southern California, joined audiologist Dr. Judy Montgomery and her volunteer students from Chapman University to conduct hearing screenings during the SOSC Fall Games.  Actor and Special Olympics spokesperson John C. McGinley was on hand to undergo his own hearing screening and see first-hand the work being done by Phonak and the Hear the World Foundation.

"As a Special Olympics advocate and spokesperson, I want to be with the athletes as well, so I make sure to attend different Games," said McGinley. "Today, I came to see what happens when an athlete goes through the hearing screening. I went through the Healthy Hearing screening myself and found out that I actually have a high-frequency hearing loss. I'll move forward with that, but I wanted to see how it works for the athletes, and that was a good way to initiate the day here."

In addition to his role as Special Olympics spokesperson, McGinley also serves as an advocate for the international pledge campaign, "R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word," whose objective is to have people pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes for all people, especially those with intellectual disabilities.

"The most stunning thing that I see about the Special Olympics Games is the fact that the athletes come here to try their very hardest to win," said McGinley. "As athletes, that's exactly what you're permitted to do here…win! The word 'special' comes out of it, they're 100 percent athletes. To me, that's what's so empowering and elevating about Special Olympics."

With Phonak and the Hear the World Foundation's help, winning can become a reality for more athletes who, as a result of hearing better, can achieve more of their goals and live a life with no limitations. 

For more information on the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program, visit http://www.specialolympics.org/SlideShows/Healthy_Hearing.aspx.

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 70 famous ambassadors, including celebrities such as Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, Sting and Joss Stone, champion the Hear the World Foundation.

For further information, go to www.hear-the-world.com.
Connect with us at http://www.facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld.

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 www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.