Fondation Pour l’Audition seeks to consolidate its position as a leading defender of hearing health in France. Its strategy consists in supporting scientific research, helping those who are affected as well as their families, and promoting solutions for enhancing hearing health.
Between 6 and 8 million people in France — that is, 13% of the general population —, suffer from hearing impairment. Ranging from mild to severe, it includes children born deaf, young people with tinnitus (one out of four), people suffering from hearing loss with aging (one out of two after age 60). Other disabilities or illnesses are also frequently linked to deafness.
Hearing loss is strongly linked to loneliness and isolation. Deaf or hearing-impaired people meet problems in their personal relationships, social inclusion and professional integration. Access to learning, training and work is especially arduous. For various reasons, French people are less prone to using hearing aids than several of their European neighbors.
The situation is often neglected, and people concerned live through it with the false idea of it being either inevitable or taboo. Hardships are even more difficult to overcome when negative stereotyping is prevalent. However, hearing-impairment, even when it is mild, is not solely a comfort issue: its impact on psychological health, brain performances and cognitive functions has been demonstrated.
Since the early 2000’s, the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller has supported a dozen initiatives, either emerging from volunteers’ organizations or institutions, to promote communication, schooling, health-care adaptations, musical practice, initiation to dancing and job-accessibility for deaf people.
In 2013, the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller took initiative to create an organization entirely dedicated to hearing health, the Fondation Pour l’Audition.
The Fondation Pour l’Audition, is recognized by the French state as a public-interest organization. It champions the cause of hearing health by supporting research and giving deaf and hearing-impaired people means to improve their daily lives. In order to achieve its goals, the Fondation wishes to unite the various players of the ecosystem into advancing that public health issue together.
The first major field of activity of the Fondation Pour l’Audition is research and innovation, which promotes advances by supporting health-care professionals through calls for proposals. The Fondation Pour l’Audition has also launched the creation of an Hearing Institute, which is a key-project both for basic research and novel technological developments. Settled in the heart of Paris, the Institute, which is directed by Professor Christine Petit, gathers international teams both for basic and clinical research.
The second field of activity deployed by the Fondation consists in supporting and improving the daily life of deaf or hearing-impaired people and their families. The Fondation puts emphasis onto several complementary axes that it nourrishes through calls for proposals, awards, field work and responses to spontaneous demands for support.
To summarize, the Fondation Pour l’Audition aims to give equal opportunities to all in terms of education, professional and social life.
The Hearing Institute was inaugurated on February 27, 2020 in Paris’ 12th arrondissement. This research center focused on basic and translational auditory research was created thanks to the joint initiative of the Fondation Pour l’Audition and the Pasteur Institute. It employs scientists from the Pasteur Institute, Inserm and CNRS.
The Institute aims to promote integrative neuroscientific approaches to research about hearing and to develop innovative diagnostic, preventive and curative treatments for auditory impairment.
Through this project, the Fondation Pour l’Audition, which was created on the initiative of Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Jean-Pierre Meyers and the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, in 2013, pursues its goal. It gathers in one place talents who shall advance the cause of hearing health and improve the daily lives of deaf and hearing-impaired people.
According to WHO estimates, about 500 million people are hearing-impaired throughout the world. In France alone, there are about 6 million. Because of their wide range and their consequences, hearing impairments will, by 2030, become the 7th most important cause of disability.