Harnessing the Sun to Help People Hear: Company Promotes Solar Rechargeable Hearing Aids in Botswana I am a development worker for a unique hearing aid manufacturer that is making a name for itself in Botswana, Africa. Godisa Technologies Trust is located in the village of Otse, near the capital of Botswana. The native word Godisa means, “to do something that helps others to grow.” For ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   May 01, 2006
Harnessing the Sun to Help People Hear: Company Promotes Solar Rechargeable Hearing Aids in Botswana
Author Notes
  • Dannis Fafard, is a development worker at Godisa.
    Dannis Fafard, is a development worker at Godisa.×
Article Information
Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / International & Global / World Beat
World Beat   |   May 01, 2006
Harnessing the Sun to Help People Hear: Company Promotes Solar Rechargeable Hearing Aids in Botswana
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 5-12. doi:10.1044/leader.WB2.11062006.5
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 5-12. doi:10.1044/leader.WB2.11062006.5
I am a development worker for a unique hearing aid manufacturer that is making a name for itself in Botswana, Africa. Godisa Technologies Trust is located in the village of Otse, near the capital of Botswana. The native word Godisa means, “to do something that helps others to grow.”
For a busy company, Godisa is surprisingly quiet-all the assemblers are deaf. In fact, the majority of employees are deaf and anyone who comes to Godisa enters their world. Everyone on the team is working together to provide low-cost technological solutions to economically disadvantaged people with hearing loss.
We are achieving this by manufacturing affordable technologies such as a solar charger, which won an award as best new product in South Africa in 2004. We also manufacture rechargeable hearing aids, a portable ear mold laboratory, and the smallest audiometer in the world.
Batswana (a name for the people of Botswana) who are deaf manufacture our products. They all have technical training in Canada. Since 2002, we have helped nearly 10,000 economically disadvantaged people by providing them with solar chargers that eliminate any operating costs associated with their hearing aids. This, in turn, empowers deaf Batswana by providing them with training and highly technical employment.
We established the company in 1999 following a needs assessment. We worked with several experts in the field of hearing impairment to take the concept of combining solar energy and hearing aids to the next level-a product with mass appeal. We began designing a solar rechargeable hearing aid to address the needs of hearing impaired people from economically disadvantaged areas. We learned that we could modify existing hearing aids to make them rechargeable. The next step was to develop a solar charger that could recharge hearing aids directly without removing the batteries.
After more than three years of operation, we are reevaluating the project. We would like to offer all users of hearing aids, regardless of the model they are using, an ideally designed solar charger. A slight modification of hearing aids by major manufacturers would provide the best-case scenario-the addition of two contacts on the side of hearing aids permits a solar charger to recharge them directly.
We want to push as many boundaries as possible so that talented deaf Batswana will have the opportunity of doing what they aspire to do at Godisa. For example, we are currently looking at different programs offered by the Mackay Centre in Montreal, Canada, and other similar institutions where our deaf employees could continue their education.
It is socially irresponsible to offer free hearing aids to economically disadvantaged people and then expect them to pay an average cost of $100 per year for batteries in the case of binaural hearing losses. We tend to forget that most people in Africa live on $1 a day. In the best-case scenario, where people need only one hearing aid, they still must work 50 days each year just to pay for their hearing aid batteries. Our solar charger is reducing these operating costs to zero. These solar charges are changing lives. And Godisa is living up to its name.
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May 2006
Volume 11, Issue 6