Apple VP of environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson has  shared a story via ABC7 News about a nine-year-old boy whose hearing was restored thanks to a new type of bone-conduction hearing aid controlled by a companion iPhone app. Highlighting accessibility and inclusion, Jackson wrote that ‘technology can transform lives [and] 9-year old Joshua is a great example.’

Joshua Gomez started losing his hearing at the age of three, and a succession of surgeries over a five-year period all failed. Conventional hearing-aids couldn’t help with his particular condition, but the Children’s Hearing Center at Stanford finally found a solution … 

Joshua was outfitted with the Cochlear Baha 5, a cutting edge device that has allowed Joshua to hear out of both ears clearly for the very first time. The device, made for the iPhone, gives him an opportunity to use Apple technology to better his life.

The key difference from a regular hearing-aid is that the Cochlear Baha 5 transmits sound to the inner ear via bone conduction, bypassing other parts of the ear that couldn’t tolerate a device.

The iPhone app allows the sound to be tuned to suit different environments, for example separating out speech in a noisy environment and boosting the softer speech tones of a child. Sound from an iPhone or iPad can also be transmitted directly to the device.

Apple has won numerous awards for its work on making its devices as accessible as possible. The company this year created an accessibility accessory section in the Apple Store, and introduced new accessibility features in iOS 10. One of Apple’s accessibility engineers, who is herself blind, recently spoke of the company’s deep commitment to the issue.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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