Editor’s note -- Today’s blog is authored by Audra Renyi, Executive Director of World Wide Hearing
Mahmoud is a 7-year old boy from rural Jordan. Since birth he struggled to communicate and talk - a burden not uncommon for a child suffering from significant hearing loss. But then, in a moment, everything changed.
Mahmoud was fitted with his first hearing aid. A smile broke across his face. Then he laughed. He could hear the audio technician’s voice loud and clear. Just as the fitting was finishing up, Mahmoud's father arrived at the outreach center to see his son. From outside the room, he called out Mahmoud's name. Mahmoud's ears perked up and he immediately turned around. When he saw his father's face and connected it to the voice he was hearing for the first time, Mahmoud burst into tears and jumped into his father's arms.
We believe the mobile screening devices we’re developing at Montreal-based World Wide Hearing have the power to make a fundamental difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people living with a disability. And that’s why today’s news is so important. Google.org is committing twenty million dollars in grant funding for a first-of-its kind Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. Throughout the Challenge, Google.org will identify, fund and support nonprofits and technologies working to increase access to opportunity for hundreds of millions living with disabilities. World Wide Hearing is as one of two initial "anchor" grants.
World Wide Hearing team in action during a hearing screening campaign: screening a young girl, one of 1,200 school children screened over two days in May 2015 in Mazatenango, Guatemala
With Google.org's support and a $500,000 USD grant, World Wide Hearing will develop, prototype and test an extremely low cost tool kit for identifying hearing loss using smartphone technology that’s widely available--and affordable--in the developing world. 642 million people around the world suffer from hearing loss. Diagnosing auditory challenges can be a struggle in low income communities--the equipment is expensive, bulky and hard to scale, particularly in the developing world.
This support from Google.org will help identify those living with hearing loss, ensuring we all hear more laughter from people like Mahmoud.