We were honored to be invited to a special event at The White House last week, the Design for All Showcase. Our Founder and CEO, Stavros Basseas, represented Sound World Solutions at the gathering. The event celebrated those individuals and organizations working to provide solutions incorporating inclusive design, assistive technology, and prosthetics. We are proud of the work that we do and grateful for the recognition that the work is providing value to many.

Assume that he or she will be “normal” and kind to you. In the waiting time (sometimes long) in front of the room, you can take information about how he or she questions (Does he read the entire text, asks a lot of questions).
But resist the desire to know if it is “cool” “nice”, “severe”, etc. The negative impression of another candidate could freak you unnecessarily: it is his feeling, you can quite have another because each oral is unique, do not forget it. Rather than worrying about what is unknown (the face of the examiner, the question you will fall on), focus on everything you can prepare upfront for success: “For example, we can think about preparing his outfit (clean, sober), his equipment, his journey, and then think in advance how the test will unfold, says Muriel Derhy, writer from typemyessays who helps high school students to manage stress bac . This allows minimizing all the effects of surprise. Prepare your material particularly well: list of works, books to present to the teacher. Check that you have some rough paper and of course what to write.

You can find more detail about the event here.

Last week, a committee within the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) issued their report and recommendations on the topic of making hearing healthcare more affordable and accessible. Many of their recommendations mirrored similar ones made by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which issued their report late last year.

For a good summary of the report and implications, click here for an article by Katherine Bouton on the AARP site.

Smartphones – many of us have them, and everyone is familiar with them. While they have been part of our communication world for a number of years, they are rapidly becoming part of the new wave of consumer-driven healthcare. Smartphones as personal diagnostic tools have been identified as one of the many trends in the healthcare landscape.

It wasn’t too long ago that Smartphones were first introduced. Not everyone immediately adopted the idea of Smartphones because they were expensive and, some people felt, complicated. But now, Smartphones are common. When most people think about Smartphones, they think about texting, listening to music, checking out fun new apps, playing games, surfing the net, and of course, making phone calls. But these little wonders can do much more, especially when it comes to a person’s health. There are apps to track exercise and food intake, find doctors and dentists and many other obvious applications for healthcare consumerism on the go.

While people are getting used to the idea of using their Smartphones to set up doctors appointments or review laboratory results, most people don’t think about Smartphones as an integral part of managing their hearing health. This misconception is changing. In 2013, Sound World Solutions introduced a personal sound amplifier (PSAP) that functions as a Bluetooth device when paired with the user’s Smartphone. This in itself was an exciting advance, but what was even more revolutionary was the ability for users to download the free Customizer app to program and adjust their personal sound amplifier themselves – without having to schedule a visit with an audiologist. In 2015, Sound World Solutions expanded the offering by introducing an affordable hearing aid with the same feature set.

As soon as the phone is connected to a Sound World Solutions device, such as the companion hearing aid, and the Customizer app is launched, the user has the option to choose one of three preset programs or to personalize the unit to fit their specific hearing loss needs. Once the initial program has been set, the user can make additional changes on the fly to improve the effectiveness of the hearing aid based on his or her current location. Real-time changes are made to reflect the surrounding environment and improve the user’s understanding and enjoyment.

Along with consumers, healthcare companies are also becoming more technologically savvy. Sound World Solutions originally introduced the Customizer app for Android phones, but today, the app is also available for iPhones. Of course, if a patient is still not comfortable with a Smartphone, the Customizer app is available from the Sound World Solutions website for use with a desktop computer, as long as the computer has Bluetooth capability. If not, a Bluetooth USB adapter can be purchased at any office supply store for around $20.

Smartphones and Smartphone apps allow patients to take control of their own healthcare and are important tools to enable patients to proactively manage their wellness instead of just reacting when illness occurs.

Shawn Stahmer has been the VP of Business Development at Sound World Solutions since 2012. He is responsible for marketing and business development and he has a passion for sharing Sound World Solutions’ mission to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be.

Changes are coming to the healthcare landscape. People are becoming advocates for their own care, taking control of their healthcare like never before. Because Individuals can now access a tremendous amount of information regarding medical issues, they are a more educated patient population that can make better decisions regarding their own care. People can take more responsibility for their health and focus on their own wellness.

Some of these changes are structural, brought on by the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Others are technological, driven by advances that make new products, processes, and information readily available to consumers in a way that was not possible before. As one of the companies leading the transformation of the hearing health industry, we have a front seat view to what such changes can mean. We also understand that what is happening within the hearing health industry is happening throughout the healthcare world.

Here are just a few of the changes already underway:

  • Video consultation with doctors

The National Center for Policy Analysis expects 7 million patients to take advantage of telehealth services by 2018. There has been some concern that video conferencing will be less effective than face-to-face interaction, but for people without a primary care physician, the option provides significant benefit with increased access to care.

  • Use of a Smartphone as a personal diagnostic tool

Smartphones are now being used far beyond their original intent, being used for such purposes as taking a person’s blood pressure or pulse. Individuals can monitor their vital statistics without alerting others that they have a medical condition that requires frequent monitoring.

  • Use of a health app prescribed by a doctor (both 2 and 3 are often characterized as ‘care in the palm of your hand’)

Multiple apps are available to assist in medication compliance. A new app helps skin cancer patients follow suspicious moles and breast cancer patients track treatment side effects. These apps even offer suggestions on how to manage those side effects And because these apps are prescribed by a physician, the hope is there will be better patient compliance than with a patient downloaded app.

Most people think of pharmacies and grocery stores as likely locations for retail based services, but now patients are also able to access services on the internet. One internet option is Activ Doctors Online, where patients can visit the website to get a second opinion from a panel of physicians.

  • Planning and managing your personal healthcare in much the same way you do your 401k investments

In the recent past, people had few choices in retirement investments because companies managed employee retirement programs. Now the number of options available to individuals has grown substantially as employees control their own retirement savings with instruments like 401Ks and other defined contribution plans. Healthcare is poised to follow this same path as individuals take more control of their healthcare options. New insurance plans are being developed to meet increasing consumer demands. It is likely that competition will bring lower costs. In the future, consumers will be able to choose different combinations of benefits and levels of insurance coverage.

  • More individual ownership of your healthcare and decisions, with a focus on wellness continuation rather than sickness intervention

Employers are helping facilitate this change by beginning to offer reduced healthcare rates for employees who choose to participate in employer-sponsored wellness programs like exercise, smoking session, or weight loss programs.

While change is often associated with uncertainty, there is the potential for much good to come from these trends. We will continue to watch as they develop, and to share our perspective on these changes, especially as they relate to the world of hearing health.

Shawn Stahmer has been the VP of Business Development at Sound World Solutions since 2012. He is responsible for marketing and business development and he has a passion for sharing Sound World Solutions’ mission to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be.

We recently received this news and would like to add our voices to the chorus of those reminding the CDC that hearing loss should not be an invisible disability. Below is information circulated by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), a consumer organization representing those dealing with hearing challenges.

“A recent study, Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults, US, 2013, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examines vision loss, cognition, mobility, self-care, and independent living. Hearing loss is the third major public health issue after diabetes and heart disease, yet this study fails to make any mention about hearing loss, or even explain why the study failed to examine the prevalence of hearing loss.

HLAA will not sit quietly by while CDC relegates hearing loss to an invisible disability. We are taking action, contacting both the White House and the CDC to ensure that they rectify this huge error. See our letter to the White House. See our news release.

You can take action too! Contact:

Maria Town, White House Office of Public Engagement,Maria_M_Town@who.eop.gov

Tell Ms. Town:

  • People with hearing loss cannot be ignored and must be included along with other disability groups in all studies that impact public policy and programs
  • CDC must do a study on the prevalence of hearing the loss in the states
  • CDC must partner with HLAA on future projects regarding people with disabilities to ensure that people with hearing loss are included and studies are presented in an accessible way

“People with hearing loss have been denied communication access in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and by public programs such as Medicare which does not currently cover the cost of hearing aids,” said Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of HLAA. “The release of the report comes on the heels of celebrations surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and we are stunned they failed to understand the impact of excluding hearing loss as a disability that needs to be addressed.”

Send your email today!

Let us know if you hear from them. Send all comments and questions to Lise Hamlin, HLAA director of public policy.”

Stavros Basseas and David Green decided to do something about the millions of people in the world who need hearing help but have limited funds and no access to services. Here in the US, we have an extensive network of medical and hearing health professionals to address the need for hearing aids plus hearing aid batteries are available at any corner pharmacy. This supply chain just doesn’t exist in emerging nations. But what they typically do have are cell phone towers and at least some access to cell phones. This was a good jumping off point to begin the project.

We needed a thoughtful design so we set off to design a “business in a bag” where somebody who travels to rural areas on a regular basis can easily fit and maintain hearing aids for those who need them. On the design side, we had to address the following needs:


  • Portable system for a hearing screening and fitting hearing aids that can be used by a technician with a few days of training
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Repair or replacement program for ongoing help


We kept the price low by using off-the-shelf signal processing components that are used in millions of devices (cell phones, headsets). These components are cheaper than the hearing aid specific signal processing components that are either custom chips designed by hearing aid companies themselves or chips designed by a third party with a small market. At the same time, we started designing a portable testing/fitting system based on a PDA. This was before smartphones became popular. The PDA could be used to test hearing and customize the hearing aid. Since, the PDA and, subsequently, smartphones have built-in Bluetooth, we realized that if we use a signal processing chip with Bluetooth, we could do everything without wires. At this point, we had inexpensive components for the hearing aid and an inexpensive, portable wireless system for doing a hearing screening and for programming the hearing aids.

We engaged with IDEO, a design and innovation company in the Bay Area to help us with a pilot study in India. In this study, we worked together to design the process and software to run on a PDA and went to India to verify that technicians could be trained to use our system in 2 days. The study was successful in that it proved that the system was simple enough to use with minimal training as opposed to the years of training and expertise required by hearing aid dispensers in the US and other developed countries.

We decided against an in the ear hearing aid design because in the ear designs require a customized ear mold. Providing multiple sizes of ear tips would allow the user to adjust the fit.

In summary, we designed a system that uses a PDA and Bluetooth to connect to and program an inexpensive hearing aid. The system is portable, easy to use, and cheap compared to traditional audiometric equipment. The hearing aid itself is very inexpensive, yet has sophisticated digital signal processing, and a rechargeable battery.

We made some modifications to the US market. Our first US release in 2013 was the CS10, which looks like a Bluetooth cell phone accessory. The CS10 has 9 hours of battery life so we included two rechargeable hearing aid batteries with a unique magnetic design that lets them attach to the CS10 with ease. We also added in the standard Bluetooth functionality to handle phone calls. We were the first company to launch an amplifier that works as a Bluetooth headset too. We added voice prompts and an audio-guide to help the user understand the functionality of the device, effectively putting control in the hands of the user.

The original software that ran on the PDA/smartphone was designed to be used by a technician. We had to modify it to work for the end user, for instance, we created a simpler screening process and removed the user database. The new free Customizer app was available for users with Android smartphones. Due to some limiting features on the iPhone, we could not release the CS10 with an iPhone Customizer app. Instead, we created computer software that runs on Windows and Mac computers to allow those without an Android phone to customize their devices.

We did not register the CS10 with the FDA as our original intent was to serve emerging markets outside the US. However, we discovered that there is a huge need in the US for affordable hearing assistance options. We decided to sell theCS10 in the US as part of the new personal sound amplifier market. Personal sound amplifiers are sold by online retailers through services like Amazon.

Our next innovation came quickly, the CS50. We used the next generation Bluetooth chip with Bluetooth LE (now called Bluetooth Smart). At the same time, the iPhone added support for Bluetooth LE and we were now able to create a Customizer app for the iPhone (and later the iPad) along with Android smartphones. We also added support for A2DP, which is the Bluetooth music streaming protocol and increased the battery life to 11 hours. We removed voice prompts and the audio-guide.

After that, we developed the behind the ear devices using the same technology as the CS50. We updated the code to enhance the battery life to 18 hours. We added back voice prompts and had them translated into 3 additional languages. At that point, we released the CS50+, which was a software update only.

Our latest release is an FDA registered hearing aid, the Companion. The Companion has a slim behind the ear style and works well if the user requires a second hearing aid or if the user doesn’t want to appear to be using a Bluetooth phone accessory. At $449, the Companion hearing aid costs about a fifth or less than most hearing aids. At Sound World Solutions, we are proud to have achieved our goal of affordable hearing options with our inexpensive hearing aid and personal sound amplifiers. We are proud of our complete hearing solution that provides high quality and affordable products, so please, just don’t say we make cheap hearing aids!

Wayne Bayever has been VP of Engineering at Sound World Solutions since 2011.

I had the honor of representing Sound World Solutions at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) 2015 convention June25-June 28, 2015. This year, the convention was held in St. Louis, Missouri at the beautiful Doubletree Union Station hotel, a converted train station built in 1894 when public buildings were truly grand. Sound World Solutions participated with a booth on the exhibit floor where we displayed our product line and interacted with attendees. We attended the HLAA convention in Austin, Texas last year, so there was familiarity with our personal sound amplifiers, but the announcement of the Companion – our first FDA registered hearing aid – resulted in a significant increase in interest and conversation.

That interest, the need for accessible and affordable hearing aids and the number of discussions we had has prompted us to expand our demonstration program for those providing community outreach services in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. This program is specifically designed for state-level programs and individuals performing this type of outreach. If you or someone you know is involved in this work and interested in knowing more about our demo program, please contact us at customersupport@soundworldsolutions.com.

The interest in personal sound amplifiers as a category continues to increase, and there is a definite need for education and awareness about this category and how it fits into the world of hearing care solutions. At the convention, I was sitting in on a session regarding the compatibility of hearing products and cellular phones and was invited to provide a short overview of the personal sound amplifier category to those in attendance. More efforts on this front will be coming soon, as we work with the mobile device industry to educate and inform their customers about affordable hearing options that will interface directly with their phones.

One final note is regarding an exciting new development from HLAA, the impending launch of their Consumer Technology Initiative (CTI). In the words of Anna Gilmore-Hall, Executive Director of HLAA, “The CTI goals include: providing assistance and resources to people with hearing loss and their families in order to learn to effectively use assistive and emerging technologies; ensuring communication technologies are compatible and user-friendly for people with hearing loss; increasing our technology capacity to enhance outreach to people with hearing loss; advocating for communication access in public and private venues; leading a national dialogue on hearing loss at the highest levels; orchestrating a national public awareness campaign; and increasing our outreach to underserved communities and populations. We recognize there needs to be a unified, rather than fragmented, approach to increasing access to and knowledge of the most current technologies. Therefore, one feature of this new HLAA program is to build a national clearinghouse for information and access to hearing assistive technology.”Sound World Solutions looks forward to the benefits that the CTI will provide to consumers, and will be working with HLAA to provide whatever support and information we can in this effort.

To wrap up, the HLAA 2015 convention was a terrific event. We appreciated all of the interaction and interest, and look forward to our participation again at next year’s HLAA 2016 convention, which will be held in Washington, DC.

Shawn Stahmer has been the VP of Business Development at Sound World Solutions since 2012. He is responsible for marketing and business development and he has a passion for sharing Sound World Solutions’ mission to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be.

You’ve decided it’s time to act on your hearing loss. Now, what do you do?

Everyone’s hearing story is unique. People experience hearing loss for different reasons and take different paths to overcome their hearing issues – which is why there are many options. Regardless of the reason or extent of your hearing loss, a good first step is to visit a hearing professional.

Many people begin their hearing loss journey with an assisted listening device like a personal sound amplifier, also known as a Personal Sound Amplifier Product (PSAP), or a personal frequency modulation system. Most of these devices are simply amplifiers, making the sound louder, but not clearer. Some assisted listening devices to focus solely on specific devices, such as your phone or television.

PSAPs have become more feature-rich

Some PSAPs not only amplify sound, but they are also able to function as a Bluetooth for your phone and can stream audio including music, audiobooks, and podcasts. Personal frequency modulation systems have a transmitter microphone, receiver, and speaker and use either headphones or a neckloop to bring sound directly to you. Personal frequency modulation systems work well in large rooms like lecture halls.

What if amplification if not enough?

If an assisted listening device is not meeting your needs, it is a good idea to visit an audiologist to fully understand the extent of your hearing loss and to rule out treatable issues like wax build up, inner ear problems or untreated Otitis Media (middle ear infection). After testing, your hearing professional might recommend a hearing aid for one or both ears. The audiologist may discuss form factors to help you determine what style would best meet your needs.

Hearing aids come in a variety of styles including:

  • Custom hearing aids
    • In The Ear (ITE)
    • In-The-Canal (ITC)
    • Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC)
  • Behind-The-Ear ( BTE) hearing aids
  • Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) hearing aids
  • Receiver-In-The-Canal (RIC) hearing aids
  • Hearing aids with Bluetooth

Ten years ago, the majority, perhaps as much as 80%, of hearing aids were In-the-Ear (ITE) or In-The-Canal (ITC or CIC) devices and the rest were Behind-the-Ear (BTE) devices. Now the situation is reversed. Today about 70% of hearing aids are BTEs with the majority being RITEs or RICs.

All the RITEs or RICs are small BTE units. RITEs or RICs have their electronics, battery, and microphone behind the ear and the speaker in the canal. This separation allows for less feedback and larger vents which makes the sound more natural and fit more comfortable. In addition, it allows space for more sophisticated technology and bigger, more efficient batteries.

BTE design changes increase available technology

One of the most useful innovations with BTEs is the use of rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries free users from the expense and difficulty of replacing the tiny, traditional cell batteries which can still be found in some hearing aid brands and styles.

The additional space in BTEs can also accommodate Bluetooth. The extensive use of Bluetooth with Smartphone and computers provides a huge opportunity to allow users to customize their devices using special apps designed specifically for use with personal sound amplifiers and hearing aids. Traditional hearing aids do not allow user customization. Customizing or programming in traditional hearing aids is a necessary function provided exclusively by dispensing/medical professionals, which contributes to making traditional hearing aids very expensive.

One-of-a-kind fit

One cool new option is available in custom hearing aids. These devices are designed for a specific user by making an ear mold. The final product is then built using a 3D printer. This is a fairly expensive option, and for many people, the incremental gain in function may not be worth the significant increase in cost.

Tinnitus may require a special solution

A special category is devices designed specifically for those with Tinnitus – when a person hears a consistent internal noise often described as buzzing or ringing in the ears. No one knows what causes Tinnitus but most people with Tinnitus also have some hearing loss. For those who have hearing loss, a hearing aid may be the right solution. For those who don’t have hearing loss, these special devices help mask those annoying internal sounds by creating a sound at a like frequency.

Be patient

Regardless of the solution you choose, give it a few weeks. Many people initially have trouble adjusting to hearing all the sounds that were previously lost to them. Sounds as simple as traffic noise or shuffling paper can seem painfully loud at first. Before hearing loss, the brain ignores much of the ambient noise around us. Once fitted with new devices, the brain needs time to become desensitized again to the constant barrage of everyday life.

Summary: Doing nothing is NEVER the right solution

Untreated hearing loss can lead to isolation and depression. There is no reason to miss out or give up on your life. If you or your loved ones suspect you have hearing loss, take action! High quality, low-cost options are now available making hearing help accessible to all. Ready to take your next step? Click here.