Two barriers stand in the way of increasing access to cochlear implants: the cost of implantation (including the devices, surgery, and services), and a lack of awareness regarding the needs of cochlear implant candidates and users.
The Gift of Hearing Foundation (GOHF) was established in 2004 to address these barriers. Formed by professionals who have experienced and embraced Cochlear Implant (CI) technology, GOHF aims to enhance cochlear implantation through private funding of cochlear implant research, supporting public awareness and advocacy, and direct financial aid for cochlear implants. The goal of this foundation is to help make cochlear implant technology cost-effective and accessible for people who need it.
In addition to addressing the financial need, the Foundation strives to create a pool of professionals who can support cochlear implant candidates before and after the surgery. The Gift of Hearing Foundation works on behalf of cochlear implant candidates in the USA by advocating for better reimbursements through government and private insurance. The foundation aims to bridge the economic gaps for people who are candidates, so more people can afford cochlear implant surgery and aftercare.
The GOHF has established itself as an advocate for people with hearing impairment by reaching out to the community and attending conferences such as those held by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA). It has organized fundraising events to raise money to provide financial assistance for cochlear implants. In 2010, GOHF president Eileen Jones received the Hamilton Relay Award for contributions to the hearing impaired community in the state of Rhode Island.
In order to increase public awareness, the organization has compiled several resources to help people find information about cochlear implants. This information, which is listed on their website, can help people learn more about their options for cochlear implants, as well as other resources for financial assistance and cochlear implant clinics. The Gift of Hearing Foundation has also printed brochures to increase awareness among the general public.
Depending on its resources, the GOHF selects a certain number of individuals to provide financial assistance for cochlear implants. These are typically candidates who do not have insurance that would otherwise cover implantation. Individuals wishing to apply for assistance must do so through their cochlear implant center, as the GOHF does not accept applications directly from patients. After being qualified for cochlear implant(s), the patient should have the audiologist or surgeon's office contact the GOHF directly for an application. It’s also important to note that the GOHF does not provide hearing aid assistance.
The Gift of Hearing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so individuals and organizations can make tax-deductible donations.
For more information, visit www.giftofhearingfoundation.org.