Co·amplify is creating products that give deaf kids with cochlear implants the freedom to just be kids.
Our mission is to develop products that make life easier and more fun for deaf and hard of hearing children who use cochlear implants and other auditory assistive technology. We can help them forget about their equipment reliances, enhance their lives, and make them more comfortable, while supporting and protecting the technology that so wonderfully gives them access to sound.
We are Meghan Carey and Sean Wilkinson, co-founders of co·amplify and parents to Percy, who was born profoundly deaf and has used cochlear implants to hear since he was 12 months old. We are designers by trade, and decided to launch co·amplify to share some of the solutions we've come up with to make our lives easier since Percy received his bionic ears.
This Kickstarter campaign reflects our first round of products. We've consulted with doctors, audiologists, speech therapists, and teachers of the deaf to create these practical goods, and we've filed patent paperwork for our proprietary innovations. We're excited to continue to learn as Percy grows, and to keep creating new products that support kids like him.
All of our products are designed and manufactured here in Maine, supporting other local artisans and their families.
The product that started it all for us was this Safe & Snug Winter Bomber Hat. We had a hard time keeping any hat on Percy's head when he was first implanted — one-year-olds are squirmy! In addition, the cochlear implants require a magnetic connection to the internal device, so all that squirming tended to knock the equipment off, which meant we were often left choosing to not go out into the Maine winter, because if Percy was warm, he didn't have hearing. If he had hearing, he wasn't warm.
Meghan worked with her mom to design a hat that we knew we could keep on his head, with ear flaps for extra warmth and a soft tie under the chin for secure fit. Most importantly, it had a snug pocket lined with thin material on each side that we could slide his equipment into. This pocket ensured the perfect combination of secure connection and warmth we were looking for. To bring the idea to this final stage, we worked with a kids clothing designer to refine the design and fit, and tested it with numerous kids and different implant manufacturers. We're very excited to think that come this winter, a lot more kids with cochlear implants can go outside, be warm, and hear the world around them.
The second item we designed was the Ling 6 Sounds Wooden Animal Playset. Our teacher of the deaf was an amazing resource for us, but she didn't exactly have the most amazing resources at her disposal. The Ling Sounds (AH, EE, OO, MM, SS, SH) were instrumental in teaching Percy to speak, but she was left to scrounge for teaching toys at the dollar store... little rubber snakes, a big wooden plane, a metal fire truck... it wasn't ideal. We thought it would be helpful for parents, teachers, audiologists, and other people in these childrens' lives to have a beautiful, consistent, well designed set of toys to represent these sounds.
Part of the success of teaching these young kids is the ability to make lessons into games, so we designed the set to have an awake side and an asleep side. The animals represent one each of 5 of the sounds. Putting them 'into bed' and sliding the colorful quilt cover over them encourages the kids to say "SHHH," the sixth sound.
We realize that these are niche products for a small subset of the population, but as more and more children born deaf are implanted at younger and younger ages (more than 80% of all kids born deaf, often at 11 to 12 months of age), it's becoming more likely you know someone with cochlear implants, or are aware of the technology. We've added some rewards to the campaign for those who want to support but might not need the hat or the toys, like a tote bag, a mug, or a drawing from Mr. P himself.
We also want to make it easy for anyone to donate a hat, or a playset, or multiple hats or playsets to local audiologists offices, childrens' hospitals, or schools for the deaf. We've added a donation option for each item, and we will happily include a note with your name with the donation if you would like. We can make the donation to a facility in your area, or we will gladly support the resources here in Maine and Massachusetts that have been so good to us, like Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary, Maine Child Development Services, and the Percival Baxter School for the Deaf.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We're excited to launch Co·amplify into the next phases of reality, and your participation would be immensely helpful.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest risks at this stage are the costs of manufacturing small quantities of the items and getting this campaign in front of enough interested parties given the specialized nature of the products.
The good news for the first concern is that we're simply looking to make enough of these first products to fund the next round of development. We're not looking to make huge profit margins or end up making 100,000 units of anything. We're putting quantity caps on the products so that we can make sure our fabricators have the time and bandwidth to deliver our products on time to our valued backers.
Should we sell out of our products before the campaign ends, we will check in with our fabricators, get the initial production runs started, and if they can handle more units, we will add stretch goals to make more products available to pre-order. We hope that's a 'problem' we need to face!
In terms of sharing this campaign widely enough to reach the right number of people, we're currently building up our online presence, and we're working with local SEO and social media experts to target and reach the right audiences. There are tens of thousands of children born deaf every year. 90 percent of those kids are born to hearing parents. 80 percent of those kids will pursue cochlear implantation. That's a lot of kids who will need winter hats, summer hats, learning toys, and other products that we hope to create.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)