Better Hearing Institute


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Financial Assistance

Optimists Clubs

Help Them Hear Program

4494 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108
314-371-6000 - Voice
800-500-8130 - Toll Free

Website:; E-mail:

Mission: In 1978, the Help Them Hear program was rolled out, giving many clubs a chance to do something for hearing-impaired youngsters and adults. The program was designed so that clubs would implement programs to heighten public awareness of the problems associated with hearing impairment, to provide local testing facilities, and to provide corrective and educational techniques for those people with hearing impairments.

Some clubs accepts donations and work with various companies and organizations to help those in need of hearing aids. Donated hearing aids are repaired or recycled and given to those in need.

Eligibility: Unclear, but seems to vary from club to club. One specifies that the child must be under 16. Check with your local clubs.

Communication Contest for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH)

History: The Optimists have been conducting oratorical contests since 1928. The Hearing Impaired Contest (CCHI) started in the Pacific Southwest District as club contests. An optimist in Orange County and then one in Van Nuys felt that the Optimist Oratorical Contest did not provide a forum that the hearing impaired could use. So they started a separate contest in 1980. Through the efforts of many, at a convention on June 29 through July 3, 1991, in Nashville, Tennessee, the Optimist International Board of Directors accepted a proposal to make the CCHI an international program for all Districts.

The purpose of the Optimist Help Them Hear Program Communication Contest is to provide a forum for as many hearing impaired children as possible regardless of communication method, to help them overcome the difficulties of communication. This contest is not run by every club, but when it is, there are two divisions in the contest - Oral and Total (some version of sign language). Within the deaf community there are many methods of communication and the teaching of the deaf. Whether a deaf child learns to communicate orally or with one of the many sign languages is up to that child and his /her parents. The Optimist purpose is to provide a forum to help as many youth as possible whatever their communication choice.

The dictionary defines "deaf' as any hearing impairment. Many of the contestants in the final have a severe-profound to profound hearing loss. Many students who have participated in the Oral Division may actually have a greater hearing loss than those in the Total division. Prizes appear to be from $1000 - $2000 for first prize winners, but that needs to be verified for the local club running the contest.

Oratorical contest: Contestants between the age of eleven to sixteen must write and deliver a speech, with a specified title, five minutes in duration, in front of an audience and three judges. Optimist members cannot be judges, so qualified members of the community are selected for this task. There is a girl's category and a boy's category. The two winners at each club will compete at the Zone level. Those winners (one girl, one boy) will participate in an Area contest, between Zones, where those winners go on to the final, District level competition. The winners each receive a $1000-$2000 scholarship. Throughout these competitions, the participants and immediate family are "guests" of the Optimist Organization, with all travel expenses, meals and lodgings provided for. There is no reason while an oral teen can’t participate in this contest as well.

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