Media - Sonova News Room
Hear and Be Heard™
The Bionic Ear Association (BEA™), under the auspices of Sonova’s Advanced Bionics brand, aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with significant hearing loss. This international network’s core activity is not only to provide information and education from hearing health professionals, but also to enable interaction among cochlear implant recipients and their families.
“I’m actually quite excited,” says Cindy Stroh as she sweeps back her long blond hair. It’s a hot fall day in Valencia, Southern California, home to the headquarters of Advanced Bionics. She has selected a simple violet-colored dress for her first face-to-face meeting with her mentor of the Bionic Ear Association (BEA). She has been in contact with him time and again via email or chat to ask questions about her cochlear implants. He was always on hand to offer help, advice and explanations. Now Howard Samuels, who devotes some of his spare time to volunteer for the BEA, is suddenly right in front of her. “You must be Cindy,” he says. They greet each other warmly, laugh and hug.
Hearing loss was a heavy burden for Cindy Stroh to bear. She felt isolated, powerless – no one close to her could offer advice. “At times like that, you need someone to understand you and give you hope,” Stroh explains. “Howard and the BEA network at Advanced Bionics were enormously helpful in doing just that.” She is delighted about her contact with her mentor: “I trust him totally!” she says. “I really don’t know why she’s so grateful to me,” Howard responds with a wink. “After all, I didn’t invent cochlear implants!”
The Bionic Ear Association’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with significant hearing loss. This international network’s core activity is not only to provide information and education from hearing health professionals at Advanced Bionics, but also to enable interaction among cochlear implant recipients and their families. Experienced cochlear implant recipients help those who are just starting out on the journey that will restore their own hearing. “Many users find it difficult to distinguish between pitches at first. It takes patience and training to achieve the best results,” Howard Samuels points out.
I enjoy helping other people.
Howard Samuels, a mentor of the Bionic Ear Association (BEA)
The mentor himself wears Naída CI sound processors from Advanced Bionics in both ears. He chose a matte black color for these external components of the cochlear system, which fit behind the ear. When Samuels heard about the BEA, he decided to become involved. “I enjoy helping other people,” Samuels adds.
Helping – for Samuels, that means sharing his experiences with others. In his case, the onset of hearing loss was sudden. As he was taking a shower one morning, he noticed that something was missing: the sound of flowing water. “I'm an engineer by profession, so my first response was to check whether something was wrong with the shower,” he recalls. However, the shower was not the problem. He could hear nothing for twelve years – until 2005, when he decided on cochlear implants from Advanced Bionics. As soon as the implants were activated, he was able to hear again: “I went to the office and was greeted by a colleague who’d already been working with me for many years. That was the first time I noticed his accent – it turned out he was Irish! And I’d never realized it in all those years.” That happened a long time ago but even now, every morning is a special experience for Samuels: “Whenever I put my sound processors on, I’m amazed at how well this technology works.”
The HearingJourney.com website is the BEA’s online forum
The BEA is all about helping cochlear implant recipients to Hear and Be Heard™. Participants can exchange experiences and ideas at HearingJourney.com, where registered members can ask or answer questions in the online forum. Audiologist Katie Skipper of Advanced Bionics is dedicated to helping families through the BEA and helps moderate the website: “Hearing Journey is the largest online community for cochlear implants and hearing loss. Over 30,000 users around the globe are registered. This warm, lively group enjoys welcoming new members, sharing experiences, providing support, and starting new friendships.” As well as making the online community available, BEA volunteers organize events for cochlear implant recipients and their family members.
Whenever I put my sound processors on, I'm amazed at how well this technology works.
Howard Samuels – making a phone call poses no problems
Several hundred experienced recipients and their loved ones have already volunteered as mentors – like Samuels, who has already provided support for about a hundred new users. “It's especially important to keep your expectations realistic. A cochlear implant isn't like a pair of glasses that will allow you to see perfectly as soon as you put them on,“ the mentor explains. “The crucial factor is rehabilitation: you have to take it seriously to achieve really good hearing results.“ Samuels himself was only able to enjoy music fully again after he opted for a second cochlear implant: “Being able to hear with both ears has opened up the world of music for me again. And I'm very happy about that.“