The challenges faced by people with hearing loss are very difficult to understand, unless you personally have a loss, or you are close to people struggling to interpret the sounds around them. Today’s news is full of exciting new electronic games, smart phones and other personal electronics, like home theater systems and ultra-thin flat panel TVs. These devices are designed to enrich our lives, but unfortunately, they are primarily designed for people with normal hearing. Imagine trying to fully experience the hottest new computer games with the sound turned off. Or, imagine your life without being able to talk with your friends and family on a smart phone, or struggling to hear speech clearly in an action packed thriller on your home theater system.
Hearing loss challenges are securing greater attention by world media, as populations around the world age, and people who once had normal hearing are now struggling with hearing loss. 10,000 people turn 65 each day in the US. Now, a rapidly growing number of normal hearing people are finding it more difficult to distinguish sounds in noisy or difficult listening environments, like restaurants, work, or while traveling on planes, trains and automobiles. And, everyday electronics, like flat panel TVs and home theater systems, are becoming more difficult to enjoy, as aging populations struggle to hear speech sounds and high tones that are commonly masked by fuller richer bass sounds.
While struggling with hearing loss is new to many people in aging populations, others have struggled to hear the world of sound from childhood. And, far too often these children have suffered in silence. Hearing loss needs to be identified, as early as possible to minimize the social and psychological impacts of hearing loss. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis leads to delays in language development and socialization. And then, frustrated with their struggles, these children may perform poorly in school, and as a result, decide that they don’t like school, or even give up on advanced education. Conversely, if children are diagnosed early, they can be fitted with hearing aids and introduced to other assistive listening technologies that will provide access to the world of sound. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the earlier the child can begin to learn.
Hearing loss can have profound physiological effects that impact an individual’s social and work life. People with hearing impairments can truly suffer over their hearing loss, experiencing;
- Low self-esteem, stress and depression.
- Conversation are no longer effortless. In fact, they require added care and consideration from normal hearing people for effective communication.
- Interactions in noisy or other difficult listening environments can be problematic, if not nearly impossible.
- Personalities can change as those losing their hearing struggle to address the challenges unique to people with hearing loss.
- People with hearing loss may isolate themselves, participating in fewer social activities.
- Children with hearing loss commonly face learning challenges in schools and related social activities, because programs are commonly designed for normal hearing students.
- Academic achievement may be lower and social interaction may also suffer.
- Work challenges can impact successes on the job and can lead to lower wages, fewer promotions, and lost business opportunities. Combined, these impacts can lead to lower income in the retirement years.
- And, unfortunately, the list goes on.
If a child is diagnosed early and has access to hearing enhancement technologies, he, or she, can lead an active social life, and can be better prepared to compete in today’s workforce.
The ability to interpret speech and communicate effectively is critical to compete against normal hearing people for the same positions. In addition, effective hearing can also impact job safety. As a result, employers will place a high value on communication skills in evaluating candidates for most job opportunities. This fact automatically puts people with hearing impairments in a more challenging position. Able Planet is committed to the design and manufacture of sound enhancement and assistive listening technologies that can help level the playing field for people with hearing loss.
The Able Planet Foundation is committed to the education, motivation, and technological assistance of those struggling to interpret sounds in the world around them. The Foundation is currently working with schools for the deaf and blind across the country, and soon, around the world, to facilitate in the early diagnosis of hearing loss; to provide state of the art technologies to help keep children excited about learning; to enhance language and communication skills; to assist them through advanced education; and to minimize the impact of hearing loss in their social and work life activities.
“Our i am able sponsored athletes, like Ashley Fiolek, Women’s’ Super X Motocross World Champion, travel to schools for the deaf & blind across the country to motivate kids to overcome their hearing challenges and to stay in the game for life. Ashley, who has been deaf from birth, tells stories of her childhood, and how she had to work much harder than normal hearing kids to succeed in school, sports, or even to participate in social activities. Amazingly, her stories told of others around her who would say “you can’t do it, because you’re deaf proved to be the greatest motivator,” said Kevin Semcken, Chairman & CEO of Able Planet Incorporated. “The great thing about kids is that they will fight to stay in the game. They refuse to surrender to the belief that they are any less capable than their friends, and most often, they are able prove to themselves and the world that they are right. The real tragedy comes as kids with hearing loss become young adults, and instead of having others take them out of the game, they take themselves out. We will fight with them to remove barriers that inhibit their access to the world of sound.”
Visit often as we update our new website to share with you stories from our sponsored athletes and the kids whose lives they have changed.