Starkey Hearing Foundation Raises Over $4.5 Million During Annual Gala Event
St paul, Minn—The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who headlined The Starkey Hearing Foundation’s annual “So the World May Hear” Awards Gala on June 17, added an entertaining item to the live auction he was hosting. While on stage, he called Alan Kalter—known as the “voice” of The Late Show with David Letterman—onto the stage to pose for a photo which he then auctioned off twice for $7,000 apiece. Leno, hilariously improvising throughout the charity auction portion of the event, at one point bounded into the crowd and had Willie Mays sign a saucer, then proceeded to auction it off for $40,000. He also autographed his own shirt and sold it for $4,000. For the second year in a row, the evening raised more than $4 million for The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which travels the world donating hearing aids to underprivileged children.

The star-studded Gala, which included performances by Dionne Warwick, Kathy Sledge, Freda Payne, and Carl Carlton, concluded with a Father’s Day tribute by John Mellencamp. Mellencamp’s father is hearing impaired and, thanks to the younger Mellencamp, wears Starkey hearing aids. “The quality of my life has improved dramatically during the past 12 months that I’ve been using my Starkey hearing aids,” says Richard Mellencamp. “Thanks to my son John’s telling me about the work of [Starkey founder] Bill Austin, things have really changed for the better.”    

Additional celebrities in attendance included Dan Clark (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Norm Crosby, Lou Ferrigno, Peter Graves, Ali Landry, Gary Mule Deer, Marie Osmond, Ellary Porterfield (Hidden Palms), Ed Sanders, and Eduardo Xol (Extreme Home Makeover), and many others.

In addition to the many performances of the night, six exemplary individuals were also honored throughout the evening for their humanitarian contributions. Honorees included racing legends Richard Petty, Johnny Rutherford, Sir Jackie Stewart, and Al Unser, Sr; baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays; and Twin Cities businessman, philanthropist, and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.

Since 2000, The Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided more than 150,000 hearing aids to those in need around the world, donating more than 20,000 each year. For more information, visit www.sotheworldmayhear.org.

Report Endorses Funding for Children’s Hearing Aids
The Children’s Audiology Financing Work Group, convened by the US Department of Health and Human Services, has issued its final report on the “financial barriers impeding timely access to hearing aids” for children. In addition to outlining the current state of funding (or lack thereof), for pediatric hearing aids, the Work Group made four policy recommendations:

  • Clarify that a permanent hearing loss is a qualifying disability and that hearing aids are assistive technology under Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and enable early intervention programs to purchase discounted hearing aids from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);
  • Clarify under Medicaid and SCHIP that digital hearing aids are almost always the medically necessary type of hearing aid required for infants and young children and are a mandatory benefit under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment benefit;
  • Encourage states to pass private health insurance mandates requiring coverage of digital hearing aids and professional services;
  • Establish hearing aid loaner programs for “short-term access” to needed hearing aids for all infants and children.

While there is no specific “next step” for this report, it is expected to have a positive impact for children with hearing loss and the report should receive broad dissemination regarding the importance of hearing aids and the endorsement of digital hearing aids.

Widex Congress of Pediatric Audiology
Ottawa, Canada—-The 4th Widex Congress of Pediatric Audiology, held during May, was attended by over 300 hearing care professionals from 32 countries. This year’s Congress provided a multi-faceted look at current research and practice in pediatric audiology. The three-day forum—where specialists from all over the world met to exchange knowledge and ideas—served as a platform for furthering the advancement of this important area of hearing rehabilitation.

In all, 20 speakers presented at the Congress information ranging from auditory development and processing, and hearing aid fitting strategies for young children—all the way to hearing rehabilitation, hair cell regeneration, and management of hearing loss in the classroom.

Under the theme “Helping Children Hear Better,” the biennial Pediatric Congress is part of Widex’s continuing effort to give children with hearing loss the same opportunities for a full and active life as those with normal hearing.“ In order to best accomplish the goals of diagnosing hearing loss in young children and to provide appropriate services, it is essential that the clinical, scientific, and commercial sectors work together,” says Michael P. Gorga, PhD, director of the Clinical Sensory Physiology Laboratory at Boys Town National Research Hospital. “Widex, in my opinion, is one of the few companies that have put intellectual and financial resources into meeting that goal. The evidence is obvious in this series of conferences that they host on pediatric amplification. The congresses are fundamentally about understanding auditory function in infants and young children, trying to find ways to fit hearing amplification to those with hearing loss, and finding the optimal approaches to rehabilitation. Everybody benefits from that. This is not a hearing aid marketing conference. The commitment that Widex has shown to the development of scientific and clinical techniques is in many ways philanthropic. To me, that’s a really positive thing.”

“What is more important for the coming years than our children?” says Tom Westermann, executive vice president of Widex A/S. “We rely on their future capabilities to function in an increasingly complex and hasty world. We rely on their abilities to communicate and understand, so that we all can live in a peaceful and prosperous world. So we have to make an extra effort to give our children the maximum possibilities to perform. One of the platforms on which we develop our own skills to better help our children is to participate in discussion and learning forums such as this congress. We view the arranging of this congress as one of our most important tasks.”

Recognizing the growing need to focus on diagnostic tools to meet the unique needs of young children with  hearing loss, Widex plans to continue its commitment to enhance pediatric audiology and the way hearing care professionals work with children and infants, according to the company. The fifth Widex Congress of Pediatric Audiology will take place in Amsterdam in 2008.

Read about it on HR Online…
The Hearing Review presents news online everyday. Be sure to check out www.hearingreview.com for the latest information. News articles during the last month include:

  • Varibel, a hearing aid manufacturer located in Meppel, The Netherlands, has introduced a new type of directional eyeglass hearing aid in Europe.
  • Sound Pharmaceuticals, Seattle, has started a 32-patient Phase 1 study of SPI-1005—an oral capsule containing a selenium-based molecule mimic of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase as an active ingredient—in normal, healthy volunteers.
  • New guidelines have been issued by an expert panel from the fields of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, infectious disease, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and medical informatics on providing evidence-based recommendations for the management of acute otitis externa (AOE), more commonly known as swimmer’s ear.
  • Cochlear Americas, Englewood, Colo, is the recipient of a 2006 Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA), the premier awards program for the medical technology community that recognizes the achievements of medical product manufacturers and the many people behind the scenes.
  • MyHearPod.com is touting “a hearing aid solution Web site for Baby Boomers” by unveiling its new generation of hearing aids that incorporate, among other unique marketing features, diamond-like studs.
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, announced a new 5-year national effort to diagnose and provide early intervention services for 90% of children with hearing loss by the time they are 6 months old.
  • MedRx Inc, Largo, Fla, has reached a supply agreement with AuDNet. Members of AuDNet are now eligible to receive preferred retail pricing on equipment as a benefit of membership to the group.
  • Speech-language pathologists and audiologists in Canada have teamed up with an American online continuing education company to provide online continuing education to their members through Care2Learn.com, Tampa, Fla.
  • On June 5, more than 140 needy children from the Houston area were fitted with free hearing aids, courtesy of the Starkey Hearing Foundation as part of Lift Up America’s kickoff event.
  • As the next phase of its campaign to conserve hearing by promoting safe usage of popular technology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, introduces the “Buds,” two cartoon earbud characters that provide safety tips for children ages 5-10, their parents, and other significant adults.
  • The Southern Indian city of Kochi has introduced newborn hearing screening to help prevent the possibility of slow speech and language development because of a late detection of hearing loss.
  • As part of the company’s commitment to child friendly hearing care solutions, Oticon Pediatrics, Somerset, NJ, will provide a free Ear Gear hearing aid retention device with each Oticon hearing instrument ordered for children ages birth to 3.
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, is one of six Maryland businesses to receive the Health and Wellness Trailblazer Award from the Alliance for Workplace Excellence.