Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project

lionsclubsorg February 18, 2015

An End to Lifelong Hearing Struggles

Erna Giesbrecht, a 54-year-old schoolteacher from Citrus Heights, California, USA, struggled with a severe hearing impairment since birth. When she was seven years old, her older brother, who had the same birth defect, was killed in a train/truck collision when he didn’t hear a train coming. At age 21, Giesbrecht was dismissed from nursing school because of her disability. As a fifth-grade teacher, Giesbrecht lived as frugally as possible to afford her hearing aid. She also had little choice but to wear the aid well past its recommended normal lifespan of five years.

Too many left in silence

Giesbrecht’s luck changed when the father of one of her students told her about the Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project (AHAP). Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project makes hearing aids accessible to people who cannot afford them without assistance. Nearly 7 million Americans who need hearing aids—23 percent of all Americans with hearing loss—cannot afford them.  The average price for one hearing aid in the U.S. is $2,500 and most individuals need two aids. The majority of insurance companies do not cover hearing aids so the expenses have to be covered by the individuals or their families. Through partnerships and the great work of Lions, Lions Clubs International Foundation has made such a basic need as hearing possible for thousands of people.

Appreciation for every little sound

“I have worn hearing aids since I was seven, and I have never heard better,” Giesbrecht said. She’s finally able to fully take charge of her classroom. “I can actually hear whispering for the first time in my life. My fifth-graders can’t ‘get away’ with as much nonsense since I can hear them better,” she said with a smile.

From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives