Robert Bishop, the Executive Director of the Joy of Hearing Foundation, Inc., was recently inducted into the Kiwanis Club of Clermont. The Joy of Hearing Foundation, a newly founded non-profit in Central Florida, deals with an urgent issue that we have never seen covered in the media. Rob and Dr. Melissa Bishop founded Joy of Hearing Foundation to fill a huge gap in our country’s medical care – that of covering the cost of hearing aids. The only resources currently in existence target families who live at or below poverty level, but the cost of hearing aids are very expensive. Dr. Melissa Bishop, one of the founders, is hard-of-hearing, as is their son, Andrew. Dr. Bishop grew up mainstreamed in the hearing world, never learning sign language until her son was born. She experienced bullying and exclusion from the time she was a young girl, and passionately wants to create resources for families to be able to help advocate for and protect their children, and prevent that kind of bullying from happening to them. Joy of Hearing Foundation thus has a two-pronged goal – to connect families with children who need hearing aids to a funding source and to provide information and education to parents and children with strategies for living with this disability and how to advocate and work with teachers and schools to make public education as accessible as possible.
Hearing loss is a common disability that affects many more children in the US than most would suspect. Babies now take mandatory hearing tests right after they are born in the hospital and an average of 33 children every day in the US fail this test and are diagnosed with a type of hearing loss that requires hearing aids. This makes it the #1 birth defect in the US. Frighteningly, over 20% of the children tested who need hearing aids do not receive follow-up care in the form of the hearing aids or therapy such as speech and language therapy. Health insurance companies do not cover hearing aids and a quality pair of digital, programmable hearing aids costs between $3,000 and $5,000. Some of the statistics about hearing loss are as follows:
Every day in the US – 33 children born with hearing loss. It is the #1 genetic birth defect.
Thirty per cent of hard-of-hearing children also have congenital syndromes such as: Down Syndrome, Barakat’s, Alport’s Syndrome and Many others.
Thirty per cent of children with uncorrected hearing loss miss over half of spoken material in the classroom and thirty per cent fail at least one grade.
A number of school-age children in our local communities need hearing aids, but their families cannot afford the cost of replacing or repairing them. The Joy of Hearing Foundation’s current goal is to raise funds to provide hearing aids for 5 of our children who currently lack them.
The Joy of Hearing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to buy quality hearing aids for all children who need them, no matter where they live, through a need-blind application process. Joy of Hearing also offers education for the family on strategies for living with a hearing disability or a person with the disability, as well as how to advocate for the child’s hearing disability both at home and at school.
Their goal is to raise awareness of this issue in our communities, and to raise funds so that we can service the children and families in need of hearing aids.
For more information, please contact Robert Bishop, Executive Director, Joy of Hearing Foundation, Inc. — Tel # (407) 241-9144 https://www.joy-of-hearing.org/