What is Healthy Hearing?
Healthy Hearing is changing lives in communities by providing free hearing screenings and other medical services, including ear wax removal, swim molds, hearing aid maintenance and minor repairs for people with intellectual disabilities. Most athletes’ hearing problems are previously undetected, un-served or under-treated. Hearing loss negatively impacts communication ability, quality of life, social interactions and health.
Purpose and goals
- Increase access to hearing care for Special Olympics athletes and as all individuals with intellectual disabilities.
- Identify permanent hearing loss and provide referrals for follow-up care.
- Identify medical issues causing hearing loss and refer to the appropriate medical professional for follow-up.
- Raise audiologists’ awareness of the hearing concerns of people with special needs, including the difficulties involved in diagnosing and accessing treatment options.
- Provide educational and clinical opportunities for students training in the field of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology.
- Provide a list of regional audiologists and ear, nose and throat specialists who care for people with special needs to all athletes who participate in the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program.
- Develop a body of knowledge about ear canal hygiene of children and adults with special needs.
- Educate athletes about ways to prevent hearing loss from noise exposure.
Importance and impact
Healthy Hearing screenings have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. have untreated ear and hearing conditions.
42% have blocked or partially blocked ear canals
28% failed pure tone hearing examinations
8% have permanent hearing loss
54,596 screenings were performed in the U.S. 2007-2018
Clinical Directors are an important part of the Healthy Athletes Healthy Hearing team. Clinical Directors are responsible for working with their local Special Olympics program and other volunteer health professionals in coordinating a Healthy Hearing event in their region.
Health Programs Coordinator