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Phonak, Hear the World Foundation and Special Olympics California Join Forces to Help Athletes with Hearing Loss

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Dec. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- During the Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games scheduled Dec. 13-15 in Irvine, athletes will receive a very special holiday gift…hearing. Phonak, the global leader in hearing instruments and the Hear the World Foundation have partnered with Special Olympics to help support the hearing needs among athletes.

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. 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.

About Healthy Hearing
During key Special Olympic competitions around the country, athletes undergo an onsite hearing screening as part of the Healthy Hearing program. Nearly one in three Special Olympics athletes in the United States fail a hearing screening. From there, Special Olympics works with hearing healthcare professionals to provide further hearing testing. For those that need hearing solutions, Phonak and the Hear the World Foundation make sure that they receive hearing aids free of charge.  Until now, 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.

Dr. Judy Montgomery is professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Chapman University in Orange, CA. She is a speech language pathologist and has been a Special Olympics Healthy Hearing volunteer for 15 years.

"I have had the pleasure of screening hundreds of Special Olympic athletes both at the World Games and local Southern California games. My favorite part about working with these athletes is assuring that they can clearly hear their coaches and the cheers from their friends and families!" says Dr. Montgomery. 

Adding to Phonak's overall commitment to the program, a large group of Phonak employees travel to the Games each year to help conduct hearing screenings and volunteer in the sports competitions.  The trip is both inspiring and humbling for the Phonak staff, who in turn share their experience with thousands of fellow colleagues and hearing healthcare professionals who fit Phonak via social media, videos, employee newsletters and company presentations.

Get Inspired
Here's just one testimonial about Michelle Core, a Special Olympics athlete since 2000. Michelle received a Phonak hearing aid after she failed her Healthy Hearing screening at the Summer Games in 2012.  

Prior to her screening, Michelle had actually complained about not being able to hear very well out of her right ear. Through the Healthy Hearing program, the audiologist found that Michelle had profound hearing loss in that ear but was able to effectively treat her with her new Phonak hearing instrument.

"My inability to hear was holding me back, but now I have more confidence" said Core, "I am very grateful for everything Special Olympics and the Healthy Hearing program has done for me."

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 Placido Domingo, Annie Lennox, Sting and Joss Stone, champion the Hear the World Foundation.

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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

SOURCE Phonak; Hear the World Foundation
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