CINCINNATI—For nearly a decade, Ohio has screened all newborn babies for hearing loss. As a result, twice as many infants are having their hearing impairments identified soon after birth as was the case pre-universal screening.
That has provided audiologists with an opportunity to address hearing losses very early, at a time when hearing aids or other technology is most likely to enable children to achieve their full potential despite their disability. However, it has also increased the demand for hearing aids among this population. An estimated 450 newborns a year in the state are diagnosed with permanent hearing loss that can be treated.
The Cincinnati Children’s Hearing Aid Trust (CCHAT) was created with the mission of providing Ohio children, from birth to age 3, with their first set of hearing aids for free. CCHAT has partnered with a number of government and private non-profit organizations and also with Phonak, Oticon, Cochlear, and individual sponsors to achieve its mission.
A touching example of the importance of CCHAT’s work was reported last week on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati. When Katie Hodapp was born, she was identified with sensorineural hearing loss. Thanks to CCHAT, Katie was fitted, at no charge, with a pair of hearing aids at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Now 20 months old, she loves to dance as she listens to Frosty the Snowman, a joyous sight her parents Libby and Andy Hodapp told WKRC reporter Liz Bonis they feared they might never experience because, “She wouldn’t have been able to hear it if we didn’t have the hearing aids.”
The parents expressed their gratitude to the strangers for a priceless gift to their family. They said, “It was like the weight of the world was off our shoulders.”
Information on CCHAT and how to contribute to the cause is available from Kelly Brockman, the program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.