The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities. Through free health screenings, training of healthcare professionals, and evaluation of the health status of people with intellectual disabilities, Healthy Athletes has become a powerful public health organization worldwide.
Healthy Hearing is changing lives in communities across the globe by providing free hearing screenings and other medical services, including ear wax removal, swim molds, hearing aid maintenance and minor repairs for people with intellectual disabilities. The amount of ear problems and hearing loss among Special Olympics athletes is greater than that found in the general population. Most athletes’ hearing problems are previously undetected, unserved or under-treated. Hearing loss negatively impacts communication ability, quality of life, social interactions and health.
IMPORTANCE AND IMPACTHealthy Hearing examinations have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes have untreated hearing conditions:40% have blocked or partially blocked ear canals26% failed pure-tone hearing examinations7% have bilateral sensorineural hearing loss
PURPOSE AND GOALS• Increase access to hearing care for Special Olympics athletes, as well as all individuals with intellectual disabilities• Identify permanent hearing loss and provide referral for follow-up care• Identify medical issues causing hearing loss and refer to the appropriate medical professional for follow-up• Raise audiologists’ awareness of the hearing concerns of people with special needs, including the difficulties involved in diagnosing and accessing treatment options• Provide educational and clinical opportunities for students training in the field of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology• Provide a list of regional audiologists and ear, nose and throat specialists who care for people with special needs to all athletes who participate in the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program• Develop a body of knowledge about ear canal hygiene of children and adults with special needs• Educate athletes about ways to prevent hearing loss from noise exposure
HEALTHY HEARING VOLUNTEER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS• Licensed/Certified Audiologist Role: Certificate and current licensure as an Audiologist, ENT specialist, GP or MD• Audiology/Speech Language Pathology Student Role: Students of Audiologist or ENT
CLINICAL VOLUNTEER POSITIONS AVAILABLE• Tympanometry - Audiologist, Speech Pathologist, or Students of Audiology• Pure-Tone Audiometry and Threshold Testing - Audiologist, or Students of Audiology• Otoscopy OAE - Audiologist, Speech Pathologist, or Students of Audiology• Ear Wax Removal - ENT• Check-Out - Audiologist