Robot 6

Marvel introduces hearing-impaired hero Sapheara


Remember Blue Ear, the costumed character created in 2012 by Marvel to convince then 4-year-old Anthony Smith that superheroes do wear hearing aids? Well, now meet Sapheara, a pint-sized superheroine with cochlear implants.

She teams with Iron Man and Blue Ear in Sound Effects, a new comic by Marvel Custom Solutions and the Children’s Hearing Institute of New York that addresses cochlear implants, bullying, hearing-loss awareness and hearing-loss prevention. It will be distributed later this month to about 150,000 students in grades 3 through 7 in the New York City area.

The comic was unveiled Saturday at an event at the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai that featured an appearance by Iron Man. “We wanted the pediatric patients to really revel in the experience of having a superhero all their own,” Melissa Willis, executive director of the Children’s Hearing Institute, told ABC News.

“It is crucial parents and children understand the facts about hearing impairment and the many viable treatment options available for patients with all levels of hearing loss,” Dr. Ronald Hoffman, medical director of the Ear Institute at NYEE, said in a statement. “Having Sapheara as a resource for entertainment and education could help many more patients receive the evaluations and care they need to lead active and engaged lives.”

Inspired by the story of Anthony Smith and Blue Ear, hearing-aid distributor Phonak teamed with Marvel last year to produce a poster — really, a one-page comic — that depicts a group of kids reluctant to allow a deaf classmate to play soccer with them until Iron Man arrives to convince them he isn’t much different than they are. Anthony and his mother Christina D’Allesandro were on hand for the unveiling of the poster, which was distributed to pediatric audiology clinics nationwide.




Kudos. Very nice message for the young people!

I guess Echo isn’t quite kid friendly enough.

What about Hawkeye?

Yeah, pretty sure I read that Hawkeye is hearing-impaired.

Still, nice message.

Oh, and I know I’m kinda being a dick, but from this angle, guy on the right is getting a full wi-fi signal.

This may not go over well with many in the deaf community, especially if kids who were born naturally deaf become a target for this ad (and yes, a comic made in conjunction with a Hearing Aide company is an ad (informative though it may be)).

Also, “Hearing Impaired” is considered very offensive to those in the Deaf Community (at least when I was taking ASL classes back in 2011). Deaf is the proper “PC” term, as there is nothing wrong or impaired about a person who cannot hear, they are just different (at least that is what I was told).


A) Huh, isn’t the one and only way of the euphemism treadmill to declare older terms (especially the original ones) of any given language evil incarnate (instead of focusing on trying to actually change people’s attitudes)?
B) “Hearing-impaired” also (and particularly) covers those with critically bad hearing, which “deaf” typically does not.
C) (Covering several terms that supposedly became “bad” after about a decade or so of use:) Of course it’s okay to be deaf (or blind or lacking an appendage or four etc.), and having a single impaired, disabled or outright missing body part usually doesn’t make a whole human being “disabled” (unless we’re talking really severe brain damage), but being (naturally) worse at something is literally what having an impairment or handicap means (and being unable to do something, having a disability), and it’s not like you get anything equally useful in return, so yes, of course the affected people are handicapped, even if they manage to overcome those difficulties with mental strength, creative use of what body parts they do have and yes, aids.

This is cute.

Marvel has a heart sometimes.

A pintsized Captain citrus?
How much did the Institute pay?

What I want to know is, now that they have created Sapheara, why can’t they incorporate her into normal comics. Make her an avenger, everyone else is. Also, if they are trying to target kids that are deaf, they should use the term deaf. Hearing impairment and being deaf are separate things.

How can I get a copy of this? One thing I am always trying to do is bring awareness and pride to my students who are deaf or hearing impaired! Thanks!!

Cochlear implants? Really? That’s the *only* viable solution for Deaf kids to aspire to?

What about just having them be DEAF. You know, can’t hear. That’s it. Cochlear implant surgery has a 20% fail rate and can be dangerous. It also restricts what you can do for the rest of your life. So a lot of Deaf people don’t want it.

Stop trying to shove a cure down peoples’ throats. There’s nothing wrong with your kid being Deaf. Embrace sign language and encourage your kid to do whatever they want to do with their life. And if later on in life they want cochlear implants (you know, after years of you supporting them instead of telling them there’s something wrong with them), then support that too.

Nice PR move.

This is fabulous news, hopefully it will make it over to the uk too

Since this is targeting Deaf children, the correct term is deaf or hard of hearing. Labels like “handicapped” and “impaired” are “bad” words in the Deaf Community. The Hearing Community’s opinion on this is not really relevant and they most certainly are NOT the Subject matter expert on this. Having studied and been exposed to Deaf Culture, (though I’m still outside the circle… and if you are Deaf, deaf, HoH, or know Deaf culture you’ll know exactly what I mean) I, as should you, will defer to their preference as how to “label” the inability to hear….the quote from the doctor is indicative of how “impaired” the medical community is in their view of deafness. It makes me angry as does the location of where the posters will be distributed…

The term “hearing impaired” is really offensive in the deaf community. Rachael is right.

My son is 6 years old and he is hearing impaired.
I don’t think that calling him hearing impaired diminish him in any way.
He is just a normal kid that thanks to his hearing aids can do all the things .
They are just an instrument that helps him to get the sounds to his brain.
He is the same person with an extra technology help
How can we get the comic?

where can I order this comic? my cochlear kid would Loooove it!!! I couldn’t find it at marvels comic site :(

You should add Echo and Hawkeye to the picture, and make them big and known like movies so it shows everyone that anyone can be a heroes. This is an awesome message though.

Daniel Brongers

January 27, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Blue Ear needs to have an ongoing (comic) series on his own. I think the entire world needs to learn about this issue, not just schools. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a very good thing that they have done this, but I think that the issue doesn’t end at schools, but the entire world as well.

Nevertheless, I am very happy that the issue has been getting its attention it deserves…

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