ISU Magazine

Volume 40 | Number 1 | Fall 2009

Students Lead Effort in Helping To Restore Hearing

Bill Jones, who recently benefited from a cochlear implant donation, spends time with his dog, Surfer.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services

Students Lead Effort in Helping To Restore Hearing

Fall 2009 Issue | By Kasiska College of Health Professions

Bill Jones gets fitted for his implant.

Sometimes everything comes together to create a miracle.

That's what happened for Bill Jones of Blackfoot, thanks to a thoughtful donor, an ISU student group with a desire to serve others, and the skills of the ISU Audiology Clinic faculty and staff.

The miracle? Last January, Jones, who is legally deaf and blind, received a donated cochlear implant, a sophisticated device that makes it possible for some deaf people to hear.

“I can't put it into words,” he said. “I can hear more things now than I've ever heard in my life.”

The thoughtful donors were the family of a 93-year-old man in the area who passed away. The family decided that his recent-generation cochlear implant – a $6,000 device – should continue to benefit someone who could use it, and they donated the device to the ISU Audiology Clinic.

The student group, the local chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology/National Future Doctors of Audiology, raised the money for the additional equipment and programming to make the device usable by Jones, while the Audiology Clinic donated the expertise to “map” the device for Jones, a process that custom-tunes the device to send signals to the wearer's auditory nerves at exactly the right strength.

The students do the mapping and programming under the supervision of Josara Wallber, Au.D., Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Education of the Deaf. Not only do the students benefit others through their fundraising efforts, they also gain valuable clinical experience.

The student association is currently raising funds for their next project, buying hearing aids for local children.

“As a student group we believe that giving back and helping others is an essential part of being in the health care profession," says Andrea Richardson, president of the local chapter.

“We are in a position to help others and it is up to us as a student group to give selflessly. It doesn't take much to help someone."

Wallber says that this philosophy is unique among student groups.

“Most groups raise money to attend various professional meetings,” she says. “This particular student organization is totally focused on service."

Perhaps the students themselves think it isn't much, but for the people they help, the end result really is a miracle.

You Can Help!

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are not always covered by insurance. The ISU Audiology Clinic can use donated hearing aids and cochlear implant processors to benefit those in need. To make a donation contact Dr. Josara Wallber at walljosa@isu.edu or call her at (208) 282-3828.