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Advanced Bionics — the only U.S. cochlear implant maker — has been acquired by Sonova, a Swiss maker of hearing aids. Sonova will pay $US 489 million for Advanced Bionics in the deal, which is expected to close in February 2010, subject to approval. Buying the Cupertino, Calif.-based Advanced Bionics thrusts Sonova, a relatively unknown maker of hearing aids, into the broader landscape of hearing-health technology. Sonova will be the first global company to manufacture both hearing instruments and cochlear implant systems, or CIs, which are implanted devices that enable profoundly hearing impaired and deaf persons to hear sounds. As part of the merger, Advanced Bionic will combine with Phonak, a Sonova unit that makes micro hearing systems such as personal amplification systems. The two companies will remain as independent units under the Sonova umbrella. With a more diverse hearing health portfolio, Sonova is betting that it can capture more share of the ... keep reading »
An interesting scene on last night’s episode of Mad Men, which is set in the 1960s. A top executive at the Sterling Cooper ad agency — known as a “pure account man” — got his foot run over by (a drunk secretary on) a John Deere lawn mower. After he is rushed to the hospital, the doctors must amputate his foot. So the big wigs at the agency arrive at the hospital, and big wig #1 says, “He was a great account man. A prodigy. He could talk a Scotsman out of a penny.” Then big wig #2 says, “Now thats all over.” Don Draper tries to defend the amputee, but there’s really no discussion. Says big wig #2: “The man is missing a foot. How is he going to work? He can’t walk.” And big wig #1 pipes up, “The doctor said he’d never golf again.” Both big wigs agree ... keep reading »
The New York Times chronicled the exasperations of buying a hearing aids, reminding users that aids are expensive — with prices averaging $2,000 each — and generally not covered by insurance. Hearing aid shopping is a pressing issue for those with hearing loss, especially those with age-related loss who aren’t used to such large out-of-pocket expenses. The best advice, however, is to choose an experienced audiologist or specialist, instead of relying on walk-in stores or Internet purchases. It’s the only way to ensure fit and a program that’s right for you. “No matter how state of the art your hearing aid may be …if it is not properly programmed and adjusted it will not do you any good,” says Lise Hamlin, director of public policy for the Hearing Loss Association. While most people pay for hearing aids with their own wallet, a few exceptions include Veterans Affairs programs and some federal employee ... keep reading »
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is managing a new video-enabled Web site that is designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. The site, HealthReform.gov, features video messages from President Barack Obama and others on the healthcare reforms being proposed by the Obama administration. The video are streamed with a FeedRoom Access online video player, a new service by The Feedroom, a provider of online video and live streaming video. With the addition of FeedRoom Access, the site is fully compliant with Section 508, which requires federal agencies to make their electronic communications and information technology accessible to Americans with disabilities. For example, audio files have captions or transcripts for those with hearing disabilities. The site is compatible with screen readers, which are used by some people with vision impairments. Additionally the site supports alternative input devices and speech recognition technology. HealthReform.gov is serving as a model to other federal ... keep reading »
A Brooklyn man who went on crutches after hurting his foot has questioned how nice New York City subway riders can be when it comes to giving up their seat for the disabled. His answer: Not nice at all. When Matt Muro tried to transport himself to work on crutches from his home in Williamsburg, he frequently had to stand, despite seeing seemingly able-bodied people sitting down in priority seating for the disabled. To channel his frustration, Muro created a website called People Who Sit in the Disability Seats When I’m Standing on My Crutches. The site was linked to by VH1, and received more than 100,000 hits in the first three days. Muro used his Apple iPhone to take pictures of seated subway culprits, who, he says, are either buried in books, have their heads down, or simply don’t care that he, and presumably, other people with disabilities, ... keep reading »

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