Access to hearing care
Expanding market reach
Innovation is not limited to products – it also drives the way we approach the market, both through our wholesale companies and our retail audiological service network. The industry is seeing a rise in lower-cost retailers, but also an increased emphasis on personalized care from dedicated audiologists. We address both these trends through channel partnership, vertical integration, services that generate increased customer demand, and an expanded presence in underdeveloped growth markets, such as China.
Broad product portfolio
Our declared goal is to offer the most technologically advanced hearing solutions and services available to users worldwide. The comprehensive, interdisciplinary knowledge that we acquire in the process is factored into each of our products. It also enables us to offer a broad spectrum of service and pricing levels for individual needs and different markets in both developing and developed countries. Operating through many channels multiplies the potential paths to hearing in all markets, even in parts of the world where care has been in short supply.
Around 1.3 billion people around the world speak a Sinitic language such as Mandarin or Cantonese. These are tonal languages, where the basic frequencies communicate the information content of words. To better understand the specific needs of Chinese people with hearing loss, we are working with China’s largest hospital, the Tongren Hospital, in Beijing. The result is a specific prescription formula for the amplification/frequency curve shapes of tonal languages – or, to put it more simply, hearing aids offering significantly better speech clarity for millions of people in Asia.
Education and training of hearing care practitioners
In China, there is a significant lack of comprehensive, practical training for qualified hearing care professionals. That is why Sonova decided to bridge the gap and build a new training center – the Global Hearing Institute in Suzhou. The center offers advanced audiology courses and practical training for optimal hearing solutions with a customer focus; it features a soundproof room for hearing tests and workstations for fitting ear-molds. The uptake of training courses by hearing care practitioners from across China has been very strong since the center opened in May 2017. After the courses, participants keep in touch with their trainers via chat and can contact them if they need advice on issues back in the workplace. In parallel, Sonova is establishing an interactive, online audiology academy. Further plans for the future include collaborations with universities, e.g. on specific certified courses or summer schools.
The Hear the World Foundation
Around 665,000 children with hearing loss are born every year. 80 percent of them live in countries with low and middle incomes and have no access to audiological care. The consequences of an untreated hearing loss especially for children can be severe, as the development of speech and language is fundamentally dependent on the sense of hearing. Untreated hearing loss is also often associated with social isolation, less chances of getting an education, poor prospects for future employment and thus minimizes their chances of a life without limitations.
Through the Hear the World Foundation founded in 2006, we are working to counteract this and are committed to creating global, equal opportunities and a better standard of living for people in need with hearing loss, and particularly children. The key is prevention of hearing loss and education, but more specifically, financial and technological support of aid projects enabling people in need with hearing loss to hear better. On many voluntary missions, our engaged employees have already successfully supported ninety projects all around the world, helped thousands of children with advanced hearing solutions and actively contributed to the establishment of local audiological care infrastructures.
By 2020, we want to conduct 14,000 hours of volunteer work for our Hear the World Foundation with Sonova employees. Since 2013, Sonova employees have already conducted 8,400 hours of volunteer work.