The hearing aids were given to the Heart of Hearing team, which is led by King Chung, PhD, CCC-A, professor of audiology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL and the director of the audiology program there. Over the past 12 years, groups of faculty and students from Northern Illinois University and other universities have traveled to eight countries and provided free hearing services to more than 4,000 people.
When research drives action
During Thanksgiving break in 2022, a team from Northern Illinois University and Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil traveled to the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in Kraków, Poland to address the hearing health care needs of Ukrainian refugees. As Dr. Chung explains, “After unsuccessful attempts to obtain rechargeable hearing aids from manufacturers, we brought four pairs of older lab hearing aids with us and planned to fit them to refugees with hearing loss.”
During the trip, the team conducted otoscope exams, tympanometry, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, and pure-tone audiometry. Among the estimated 150 refugees tested, significant hearing loss was documented: approximately 66 needed hearing aids for the first time. The Hearing Journal covered the trip, and reading Dr. Chung’s description of the unmet needs motivated the donation from ReSound.
The project is ongoing, and more help is needed
The team plans subsequent trips to Poland to fit the newly donated hearing aids and provide follow-up services. The Hearing Journal will be writing about this ongoing work throughout 2023, so please watch for updates.
To make a monetary donation to support the team’s travels, please:
- Use the Northern Illinois University donation website: https://foundation.myniu.com/give.php and choose “Audiology General”
- Then send an email to NIU Foundation at [email protected] to specify your name and donation amount for Heart of Hearing for Ukrainian Refugees—it is very important to do both steps
To donate hearing aids, contact Dr. Chung at [email protected]
“While the impact of the war is often expressed as the number of casualties in the media, the damage to people’s hearing is not mentioned,” Dr. Chung notes. “Ukrainian refugees are not only displaced by the war, but many are also left with a permanent disability that can negatively affect their communication abilities and cause long-term disability.”
In addition, Dr. Chung points outs, hearing loss “will likely to be one of the most prevalent noncommunicable disabilities among the people who stayed in Ukraine, because of the continuous and relentless missile attacks. We strive to raise awareness of the great hearing health care needs among the people of Ukraine and . . . hope more people will join our cause to provide hearing and amplification services and devices.”