My aunt, has always been hard of hearing, she lip reads to understand what people around her are saying, we’ve always had to talk extremely loud when talking to her. Because of her absence in hearing, some people in my village would talk about her in her presence like she wasn’t there. When my aunt first started visiting the city of Johannesburg, I realised that the flat she stayed in did not accommodate her condition of hard of hearing. This scared me because I was always concerned for her missing out on life saving sounds as she was always alone during the day while everybody was at work.
To solve my aunt’s problem, I started to look around for devices she could use but all the devices that were available were too expensive and intrusive. These devices were intrusive in a sense that for a device to function, a surgery where a speaker is inserted inside a person’s inner ear had to be conducted. I just knew that my aunt would never afford the device and would certainly hate to be inserted an object inside her inner ear.
During the early stages of our R&D, we learnt that in South Africa we have a community that consists of about 4million deaf and hard of hearing people, 356million worldwide and about 90% of people here is not accommodated by assistive hearing devices that were available in the market. According to the World Health Organisation, the current production of assistive hearing devices meet less than 10% of global need.
Our mission is to address loss of life that occurs as a result of a deaf and hard of hearing person being unable to hear life-saving sounds. The problem we seek to address extends to people over 65 years of age as loss of hearing is prevalent in this age group.