Written by: Rick Radia
Sound Matters: People Matter
There’s been a lot of discussion in the media recently about company values and culture. I think we’ve all experienced being part of a company where the stated values don’t translate into the day to day working culture. I’d like to share a story that has demonstrated to me that in AudioTelligence our value of using our technology to break down barriers is embedded into our daily working lives.
As part of my role as Products and Partnerships Manager, I’m responsible for user testing, and so I’m fortunate enough to meet some incredible people who openly share their experiences with me around their hearing loss journey. Most recently I met a young woman whose hearing loss journey has been particularly challenging. Even with her cochlear implant, she struggles to participate in group conversations at home, work and in social situations. Keen to find a solution, she applied to be part of our user trials. Unfortunately, the setting for our user trials was too challenging for her, so we needed to make other arrangements. Her story, like those of all the people we’ve met, was compelling, and we were keen to understand her lived experiences and see if our technology could help.
When we met she explained that, while her cochlear implant did help in certain situations, it was impossible for her to keep up with a conversation if there were more than a couple of people involved. Although we were in a quiet setting, in a living room, she was feeling isolated and unable to follow the conversation. Like many people who don’t suffer from hearing issues themselves, I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to make sure she was included in the conversation, but even by ensuring she had a good spot in the room and we were all close enough for her to lip read it was still difficult for her to take part in the conversation.
We decided to set up AudioTelligence’s prototype assistive listening device to stream to her cochlear implant. The tech has been tried and tested with people with varying degrees of hearing loss, but none of us knew whether this would work for her. Once it was connected, we continued our conversations and it was clear the tech was making a big difference. She was fully engaged and wasn’t just part of the conversation – she was at the heart of it. She was completely taken back – and absolutely delighted – by the difference the technology made. Having worked for AudioTelligence for over two years, I knew how well the tech works, but for the first time I was face to face with the dramatic and immediate impact it had on someone’s life. It reminded me why we wanted to develop the technology in the first place.
But this story is not about how great our technology is, but about how great our people are. Let me explain: come Monday morning I shared my experience with the team and wider company and their reaction moved me greatly. Our Chief of Staff and Principal Hardware Engineer immediately said “We have the parts to make another prototype, so let’s build one and give it to her.” The whole team – hardware, software, test – rallied round; making this device meant taking on extra work, but all of them wanted her to get a device as soon as possible. Just one week later, I had the pleasure of giving her one of our prototypes. Her reaction was incredible –
“I can’t believe your company built a device for me. This will have a huge impact on my day to day life – both at home and at work. It also means that I don’t need to avoid social gatherings anymore. I am so grateful to you and your team at AudioTelligence. I know your technology can make a real impact on not only my life but others. I will certainly be telling people about it.”
At the end of the day we’re a business, but we all know the tech we’re developing can change lives. That’s the reason we work at AudioTelligence…. And the team showed me that our values aren’t just words on paper, but beliefs that they are prepared to live by. I’m incredibly proud of my colleagues here and I’m very pleased to be part of this wonderful team. Thanks everyone.