Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Starkey delivers joyous 'sound' for Christmas

Published:Monday | December 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation, William F. Austin, fitting one of the many patients with a custom hearing aid.

They were not wrapped and placed under a tree like the typical Christmas gift, but for the hundreds of Jamaicans who couldn't afford them, the custom-made hearing aids recently provided by Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF) are almost like treasure.

As part of Phase One of their mission, a team of audiologists from Starkey visited in June and conducted diagnostic assessments for hearing aid fittings that included ear screening, cleaning, if necessary, a voice test, and impressions of the inner ear from which custom moulds were created.

Earlier this month, Starkey made good on their pledge, by embarking on a two-day mission on December 4 and 5 at the University of Technology, to fit more than 800 people with custom hearing aids, thus completing Phase Two.

"This mission was a success," Tamiann Young, SHF regional coordinator for the Caribbean, told The Gleaner.

"The patients came out and were fitted with the power level that would have been best for them and we're happy to be able to support patients from all age groups, with younger children now in better positions at having sound recognition and hearing."

Young noted that the third and final phase, aftercare, started on December 7, with the recipients being trained to use and care for the devices.

She added that the success of aftercare was hinged on the support of crucial partners like the Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which had committed to provide assistance.

Digicel Foundation donated more than $1.7 million in support of Starkey's mission, pointing out that the average cost for a hearing aid ranges between $80,000 and $100,000, which many could not afford.

"A majority of the recipients would be unable to afford hearing aids on their own. It was with this in mind that we decided to support Starkey's mission. Digicel Foundation is committed to supporting our special-needs community, and though hearing aids are not a solution, they provide an opportunity for the deaf and hard of hearing to navigate more comfortably in society," said Dane Richardson, CEO of Digicel Foundation.