About the Foundation.
What began as a personal hearing mission has grown into something much bigger. Over eight years ago, my wife Ninez and I, with support from our family and friends, organized and sponsored a trip to the Philippines, helping to provide and fit hearing aids to people with hearing loss in several of the country’s under-resourced communities.
Hearing wellness is very personal to us. I was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at age six and have worn hearing aids for the majority of my life. Knowing first-hand the challenges people with hearing loss face, and the critical role hearing aids and other hearing devices play in a person’s life and overall health, we knew our efforts would have a positive impact in the lives of the people we would be helping.
“We saw children wince from the unexpected joy and surprise at hearing sounds with their hearing aids for the first time.”
On our first trip, we saw children wince from the unexpected joy and surprise at hearing sounds with their hearing aids for the first time. Grandparents who grinned from ear to ear, knowing they would now be able to hear and cherish their children and grandchildren in ways they hadn’t in many years. And children’s parents, who were so grateful for the possibilities their child’s new ability to hear brought to their family. It was a privilege for us to be there and witness these moments.
Our initial goal had been to provide the gift of hearing through hearing aids, but we quickly saw we were providing so much more. A sense of community. Inspiration. Confidence. Acceptance. New opportunities. And hope.
The wonderful experience from our initial trip fueled our passion and mission further. Before long, we were planning a second trip, and word began to spread. We had strangers, manufacturers, audiologists, and others who learned of our efforts and volunteered their time, resources, and financial assistance.
With the growing interest in our work, we began the Akoio Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the hearing wellness and empowerment of people with hearing loss in under-resourced communities in the Philippines and United States. Since our early roots, our Foundation has turned the awareness of addressing hearing loss into a humanitarian one. Through our efforts, we are not only helping others with the life-changing gift of hearing, but also spreading the message of tolerance and inclusion in communities where people with hearing loss or other physical challenges are marginalized.
“Together, we can help overcome hearing loss stigmas and ensure people with hearing loss have the care and support they need and deserve.”
To date, we have provided hearing aids and hearing wellness care to more than 10,000 people. Our work, however, has only begun, and we invite you to join us in our mission. There are several ways to help us, and to start, we hope you’ll consider joining Akoio’s free community or making a donation today.
Together, we can help overcome hearing loss stigmas and ensure people with hearing loss have the hearing wellness care, opportunities, and support they need to lead fulfilling lives.
Elizabeth (Ninez) Arreglado and Bill Schiffmiller
Co-founders of the Akoio Foundation