#OliveSavvy - Shining a Light on Affordable Hearing Aids - Solar Ear

"To hear again means to transform dreams into sounds, which translates into more education and work opportunities.” - Solar Ear

When we think about hearing aids, we think of a revolutionary hearing device that has helped change the world. However, another thought quickly comes to mind as well; they are expensive. Hearing aids cost on average about $4,000. When we were doing research for our smart glasses at Olive Devices, we found that 90% of deaf and hard of hearing persons live in low income areas.

That is why we feel that for our #OliveSavvy post this week, it is important to highlight Solar Ear, a company founded by Howard Weinstein that manufactures low cost, solar rechargeable and environment friendly hearing aids. Even though they sell their affordable products, Solar Ear has the heart and mission very similar to a nonprofit.

We take a very bottom up approach," Weinstein said. "Our products are invented by our workers who are deaf. We also work as hard on replicating our social, educational, health outcomes and impacts, not just make more hearing aids. Besides, we reinvest 1/3 of our profits back into the business, 1/3 towards our social mission and 1/3 towards the empowerment of our workers.”

According to their website, 642 million people need hearing aids, and around 400 million live in developing countries. Thus, Solar Ear has a global mission to provide hearing aids to the vast majority of people who cannot afford them.

“The sooner a hearing aid is adapted for a child, the greater the chances for them to be taught to speak and thus to have access to the education system," Weinstein said. Therefore, the non treated hearing loss contributes to continue the poverty cycle and to deprive hearing impaired from opportunities.”

Hearing aids for severe and profound hearing loss need more battery power, which also increases the cost of the device. Solar Ear’s solar rechargeable hearing aids offers a smart, affordable solution. This is especially true because while batteries and chargers can be found in big cities, they are not always available in developing countries.

At Olive Devices, we want to provide independence to strengthen our communities through function and aesthetic. Solar Ear is a perfect example of a company that has successfully helped to strengthen communities worldwide and is continuing to do so. The task is a tall order to say the least, so I will end this #OliveSavvy post with a little advice from their founder.

“Know what you do not know.
Become a great listener.
Take ego out of any decision.
The project is not about you.
Do not be afraid to fail.
Improve your empathy quotient.”


Molly Oretsky

Molly Oretsky