Hear Armenia: Ensuring little ears can hear

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Armenia with the Hear The World Foundation. Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job, is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, doing yoga and spending time with her loved ones.

Every year, about 665,000 babies around the world are born with significant hearing loss. This is a statistic that, as a foundation, empowers us to help make a difference in these children’s lives.

Since 2010, The Hear the World Foundation has been supporting the Arabkir Hospital in Yerevan to develop a newborn hearing screening program. Since then, the program has expanded to five additional provinces of Armenia. Now, all infants born at these locations receive a newborn hearing screenings 48 hours after birth!

We saw firsthand the success of this program during our visit to the Institute of Perinatology on Thursday, where we watched baby Haik have an Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test, which can detect blockage in the outer ear canal, as well as the presence of middle ear fluid and damage to the outer hair cells in the cochlea.

[wpvideo Ae9VWym6]

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Hear Armenia: Gifting the sound of music

After a successful trip to Haiti to provide support to children who have hearing loss, Hear The World Foundation has head to Armenia. Open Ears is following the group of Sonova team members on their journey. As Head of the Hear the World initiative, Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job and is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, yoga and spending time with her loved ones.

We’ve spent most of the time here in Armenia fitting children with new hearing aids, adjusting their hearing aids, preforming Visual Reinforcement Audiometry tests and doing newborn hearing screenings. It has been amazing watching the children react to new sounds and see how well they’ve adjusted to their hearing aids since the last time we were here.

One boy, named Daniel, was first fit for hearing aids when he was just eight months old. It took him one month until he reacted to his name, and now he is alert, attentive, clever and asking a lot of questions!

Another little girl Ruzana, was first had an Auditory Brainstem Response test, which was donated by Hear the World for use by the Arabkir Hospital, when she was a baby. Since her diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss, she has received hearing aids, and now at four-and-a-half years old, she speaks well, and is doing great at school, with help from her FM system.


Aside from helping these children hear the world, we’ve also been able to provide them with a special gift, thanks to the support of Phonak team members back in Switzerland and Germany!

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Cool Halloween Hearing Aids Prove that Technology Isn’t Scary

Hearing aids can be scary to someone who doesn’t know how they work. So with Halloween just around the corner, we think it’s the perfect opportunity to show kids and their friends that hearing aids are cool!

👊💙👂 #captainamerica #superhero #halloween #marvel #hearinglosswontstopme #nikon #hearingaids #phonak #hearingloss #hearinglossawareness @marvel

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How I Made My Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms

For the first 12 years of my life, I slept peacefully through the majority of thunderstorms. If I ever awoke, it was during a strike so violent everybody in the house was awake, and huddled in my mother’s bed.

With half an eardrum in one ear and no eardrum in the other, the idea of a thunderstorm being frightening seemed silly. Why would pretty flashing lights with next to no sound be scary? As long as there was no thunder, storms seemed like a ridiculous thing to fear.

Summer 2005, however, would change this idea for the rest of my life.

Almost one year after my left eardrum was repaired and half my hearing was restored, the horror of strange sounds hit me.

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Hear Armenia: Helping an earthquake ravaged country hear

After a successful trip to Haiti to provide support to children who have hearing loss, Hear The World Foundation is heading to Armenia. Open Ears will be following the group of Sonova team members on their journey. As Head of the Hear the World initiative, Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job and is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, yoga and spending time with her loved ones.

Hear Armenia

Armenia is a country with a great need for action and support of its health industry.

In December 1988, two earthquakes – measuring at 6.9 and 5.8 in magnitude – hit Armenia, killing up to 50,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. Weakened by the earthquake, and the demise of the Soviet Union, Armenia’s economy broke down. The country began gaining some momentum in the late ‘90s when market reform was introduced, but the industrial sector continued to suffer. Ten years later, the 2008 financial crisis put the country again in jeopardy, destroying the positive developments made after the earthquakes. Today, 20 percent of Armenians live on less than $2 a day. Their access to healthcare is a question of money, as approximately 60 percent of healthcare costs are paid for by the patient out-of-pocket. The state spends less than 2 percent of gross domestic product on healthcare for the population, and hospitals often don’t have the necessary equipment or well-trained medical personnel.

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Hear Haiti: Haiti, the Unbelievable

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Jenn Brinn is a digital marketer who works at Sonova e-Hearing Care in Nashville, Tennessee. She is passionate about technology, travel, coffee, documentaries, and her family.

Day 8

Over the years, The Hear the World Foundation has been sending volunteers on dozens of service trips with the mission of providing better access to hearing healthcare to those in need around the globe. Historically, these volunteers have been Sonova employees with a clinical audiology background; after all, the majority of the work on these trips is to fit and recheck hearing aids. Since starting work at Sonova a year-and-a-half ago, I would get the emails asking for volunteers for this or that service trip, but none of the qualification criteria matched my skill set.

In May, I finally got the email I’d been waiting for…the trip to Haiti in October of 2015 needed a communications volunteer. Seeing as my background and interests are in digital marketing and communications, this opportunity was a perfect fit. I applied, and in early July was notified that I was selected to be the first volunteer with a dedicated role of being the trip historian/documentarian. Since I am not an audiologist, I immediately began brainstorming how I could leverage my hobbies (and day job)–which consists of photography, videography, social media, and content creation–to best capture the spirit of the people we were setting out to serve. The answer, I would come to find out, was about to reveal itself to me in a way I wouldn’t have believed if I didn’t experience it for myself.

LuggageIt began when our plane touched down in Port Au Price around 3 p.m. Sunday. The airport was small and crowded. The baggage claim carousel was chaos–people pulling bags off as quickly as they were released, elbowing one another out of the way, knocking into each other with luggage carts. Once the area cleared, my bag was nowhere to be found. After searching and waiting for over an hour, I surrendered to the fact that my luggage was either taken by mistake or stolen. Not wanting to hold up the team any longer, we loaded up the bus and headed to New Life Children’s Home where we would be staying for the week. I thought, surely in a few hours someone will call saying they had taken my bag by mistake and it would be returned to me. But by 9 p.m., my phone hadn’t rung. It was time to start asking my travel mates to borrow pajamas, a toothbrush, and something to sleep in. In the poorest country in the Americas, the only items I had to my name were the clothes on my back and my camera and computer, which I traveled with in my carry-on backpack. Talk about being out of your comfort zone!

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Hear Haiti: Getting More Than You Give

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Carina Rodriquez is the Clinical Manager of Latin America for Advanced Bionics. She is originally from Uruguay, and moved to southern California two years ago.

Day 7:

I joined this Hear the World mission as part of the diagnostic audiology team. Although the daily profession is second-nature to us back in the States, here in Haiti we are learning the true significance of our role. The medical professional aspect of hearing impairment and thinking about it as a “job” seems less important here in Haiti, and it has become an expression of love towards the patients–responding to their needs from our hearts.

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Hear Haiti: Celebrating the Little Things

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Sylvia Ciechanowski is Roger & FM Customer Service Representative at Phonak Canada. She loves to travel, has a passion for dancing, and dreams of one day becoming an audiologist.

Day 6:

As soon as we walked through the gate of Haiti Deaf Academy, each one of us were hugged and greeted with huge smiles. We only worked with the children for a few days, but I’m sure the impact they have had on my view of the world will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am surprised by how many of the little details I can remember about each child. Rose taught me my first words in sign language, Albert allowed us into his world by painting beautiful pictures for us. Beu even taught me a new way to style my hair! It is amazing how kids can just pull on your heartstrings, allowing you to just love them instantly.

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Hear Haiti: Similarities hundreds of miles from home

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Laurie Daley is the territory manager for northern New England for Phonak US. She is recently married, loves to travel and is a huge Patriots fan.

Day 5:

I came on this trip fully expecting a life changing experience. What I didn’t expect was that the similarities between our worlds would affect me as much as the differences.

Earlier this week, the team agreed that we were here to work (and we have!). In addition to testing for hearing loss, fitting, and follow-up of the children at the Haiti Deaf Academy, we were compelled to do more than that, and we provided other services for other at-risk groups for hearing loss, as time permitted. One of these extra projects came when we were invited to do hearing screenings for students of The Respire Haiti Christian School.

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Hear Haiti: The Road to Sustainability

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Nate Schau is the Customer Care Audiology Trainer for Phonak US, he has and awesome wife, two beautiful daughters and is an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs.

Day 4:
Today was our third full day in Haiti. We woke in the morning to another wonderful breakfast prepared by the staff at New Life. We quickly loaded up our vans with our equipment and headed to Leveque. This is my second trip to Haiti to work in the community of Leveque. The goal of the Hear Haiti program is to create a sustainable hearing health program. Since my first trip, I have seen much progress toward this goal and today was no different.
When we first went to Leveque yesterday I was excited to see that the children that have been previously fit are still wearing their hearing instruments and getting benefit from them. But for the Hear Haiti program to continue, it can’t just end there. Sustainability means many things–it means that in addition to fitting hearing instruments, we need to follow up and check the hearing instruments periodically. It also means that the children who are fit also receive continued auditory and verbal training. It also means that we continue to train the local, on-site nurse who helps take care of the day-to-day questions and troubleshooting that may arise with the hearing instruments.
When we arrived in Leveque today, we immediately went to work setting up our clinic for the day.
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