World Wide Hearing Receives 2018/19 Seewald Award

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World Wide Hearing is the recipient of the 2018/19 Richard Seewald Award. The annual prize by Sonova’s Hear the World Foundation honors outstanding aid projects benefiting people in need with hearing loss around the world. World Wide Hearing is a Hear the World Foundation project partner since 2016 and works towards the prevention of hearing loss and early identification of school children with hearing loss.

Children with hearing loss living in low and middle-income countries often have little to no access to an audiologist, hearing health care or affordable hearing aids. Undetected hearing loss in children, even mild hearing loss, can delay the development of speech and language skills and limit school performance and can lead to a life of social isolation, poverty and higher risk of poor mental health.

Outstanding project work honored

The Hear the World Foundation honors the professional and highly effective project work of World Wide Hearing led by Audra Renyi, Executive Director. “The 2018 Richard Seewald Award is handed over to World Wide Hearing in recognition of the exceptional leadership, expertise and passion in developing and delivering sustainable hearing health care and rehabilitation services to children in Peru”, says Prof. Dr. Richard Seewald, member of the Hear the World Foundation’s Advisory Board. “Thank you so much for this recognition! It means the world to us. Our work in Peru would not be possible without the support of Hear the World and without our Director of Programs, Youla Pompilus-Touré, and her local team who have done an outstanding job”, says Audra Renyi.

Capacity built in in Lima and across Peru

World Wide Hearing implements hearing care programs to ensure that children from low-income families receive hearing health care. Children identified with hearing loss are fitted with high quality hearing aids and receive long-term care. Since 2016, World Wide Hearing with funding, hearing aids and expertise from the Hear the World Foundation, has trained local technicians, speech therapy students and volunteers (in total more than 100 professionals) to conduct hearing screenings and has screened 20,000 children. The short-term aim is to screen 30,000 children aged five to eighteen by March 2019. In the long run World Wide Hearing and the Hear the World Foundation are hoping the Ministries of Health and Education will take over the screening program enabling local audiologists, technicians and speech therapists to provide all children with hearing health care and access to hearing aids.

About the Richard Seewald Award

The Hear the World Foundation's Award is named after Professor Dr. Richard Seewald, who is well known for his tireless efforts in pediatric audiology over many decades. He spearheaded the development of an internationally recognized DSL method for fitting hearing systems to children. Prior to his retirement, Seewald held the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Hearing at that country's National Centre for Audiology, which he co-founded. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Western Ontario and a member of the Hear the World advisory board. The annual Richard Seewald Award was developed to honor outstanding project work.

World Wide Hearing wins $750,000 grant in Google.org Impact Challenge!

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World Wide Hearing is overjoyed to announce that it has won a $750,000 grant in the 2017 edition of Google.org Impact Challenge | Canada. World Wide Hearing was the only Quebec-based finalist in the competition.

We will use the grant money to develop a ground-breaking open-access technology platform.  Audiologists and speech therapists will use this technology to provide remote hearing loss diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation to children and youth in disadvantaged communities around the world.

“Hearing loss keeps over a billion people in a deep disconnect from the world. Our mission is to bring people out of their social isolation and let them live full, productive lives,” says Audra Renyi, Executive Director at World Wide Hearing. Over the past six years World Wide Hearing has run projects in Guatemala, Jordan, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam and in Indigenous communities in Canada, where they provide hearing aids to children and youth and trained local people, mainly women, as hearing technicians to provide hearing aids and follow-up care.

The former Wall Street investment banker, who has been a hearing care advocate since 2011, is excited about the opportunities ahead. “The $750,000 Google.org grant will help us harness the power of technology to scale operations and connect young patients, parents and practitioners across the world. Our open-access global database will capture and aggregate a significant volume of data. This will give organizations, governments and businesses the means to determine the extent of hearing loss on a global scale, find hearing loss hotspots and identify regions that lack specialists.”

World Wide Hearing’s technology solution, specifically tailored to meet the challenges of remote communities with limited or unreliable internet connectivity, has generated a lot of interest during the three-week Google.org competition. The non-profit is looking to attract more partners to the project and start deep conversations with manufacturers.

“We want to thank everybody who voted for us,” said Renyi. “Together, we proved that technology has the potential to close the hearing loss gap for young people in developing countries and underprivileged communities.”

Voting for the 2017 Google.org Impact Challenge|Canada ran from March 6 to March 28. The ten finalists pitched their projects to a panel of judges at a closing event on March 30, 2017. A total of five winners were chosen: four selected by the panel of judges and one winner chosen by public vote. The winners received up to $750,000 in grant funding and technical assistance from Google.org and the LEAP Centre for Social Impact.