SEATTLE—Two people who have overcome hearing loss have been brought together by their commitment to helping others to do the same.
One of these is Paige Stringer, founder and executive director of the Seattle-based Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss. She was announced last week as winner of the Phonak Healthy Hearing Contest.
Born profoundly hard of hearing, Stringer was fitted with hearing aids early in life and was able to communicate through spoken language and to graduate from mainstream schools. After earning a master’s degree, she had a successful marketing career working for major corporations before becoming a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant.
In 2008, she traveled to Southeast Asia where she saw that the shortage of trained teachers and of quality hearing aids and the general lack of awareness about hearing loss were holding back thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. She said, “It was a stark contrast to my personal experience growing up hard of hearing in the United States where expert teachers and resources are in ample supply.”
That experience inspired her to start the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss, which works with partners in the global community to implement sustainable teacher training workshops, professional development initiatives, and hearing aid programs that directly benefit children with hearing loss.
Stringer recently wrote about the work of the foundation on the Hearing and Kids blog at HearingHealthMatters.org.
A STORY WORTH FILMING
As winner of the Healthy Hearing Contest, Stringer will receive a $25,000 prize from Phonak, a major hearing aid manufacturer and part of the Swiss-based Sonova Group. In addition, her extraordinary story will be turned into a short film, which will be featured later this year on Phonak-us.com and ArtoftheStory.com.
This is where another person who has achieved much despite hearing loss enters the picture. He is Austin Chapman, a 23-year-old movie producer who hosted the Healthy Hearing Contest on his web site, ArtOfTheStory.com. Born with profound hearing loss deaf, Chapman was fitted last summer with a Phonak hearing aid that allowed him to hear clearly and appreciate music for the first time in his life. His experience inspired him to partner with Phonak to seek out others to tell stories about their own life-changing experiences that came with hearing—for the first time or again.
To do this, they started the Healthy Hearing Contest. There were many entries, but, said Chapman, “Paige’s story stood out because she has truly dedicated her life to the hearing health cause.”
Paige Stringer said, “I look forward to working with Austin and his creative talents to promote the human potential that can be realized when early identification, appropriate hearing technology, and early educational support are in place for young children with hearing loss, no matter where in the world they live. I hope that through initiatives like this more awareness will be brought to the global issue of hearing loss.”