I recently read an announcement made by the American Academy of Audiology that the Help America Hear Program had launched a scholarship program to provide free hearing aids and scholarships to two hearing impaired high school seniors. The Help America Hear Program is provided through The Foundation For Sight and Sound(FSS). The FSS was co-founded by Mitch Shapiro, a long time hearing aid user, and David Carr, a board certified hearing aid dispenser.
The announcement got me thinking about the effect this wonderful program will have. Most people don’t realize the impact of hearing loss on our lives. hearing loss is invisible. It doesn’t seem to evoke the same empathy in the general population as would a blind person walking with a guide dog. Having someone recognize the difficulty of having to live with hearing loss will change these young peoples lives in ways they may not have anticipated.
There is a growing body of research that has looked at the negative impact of hearing loss on earning power and professional growth. People with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000.00 per year in income. Across the country the loss of income to people with untreated hearing loss can be as much as $170 billion dollars and as much as $26 billion dollars will be lost in unrealized federal taxes.
People with untreated hearing loss are twice as likely to be unemployed, and may also expect to work at least 10 years longer to make up for lost wages. They are less likely to be promoted in their jobs.
Good hearing is crucial to effective communication in most jobs. It is also important for emotional stability, physical health, improved cognitive function and group social participation. Having those hearing aids will allow these young students to attend classes and study groups, go to college parties, get a job and be treated like everyone else… like normal.
I’m not sure that the two people who will become recipients of these scholarships are fully aware of what an awesome gift they will be receiving. Mitch Shapiro and David Carr change lives with each set of hearing aids they give away.
That puts a smile on my face.
Please share this link to Help America Hear Scholarship: http://www.foundationforsightandsound.org/scholarship.htmlDr. Frieda Toback Director of Audiology McGuire’s Hearing Aids and Audiology The Hearing Center