Global Spotlight: Expansion Through Acquisition
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing grew globally by acquiring likeminded groups abroad.
Back in the 1890s, Alexander Graham Bell—inventor of the telephone—founded the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to help those struggling with hearing loss in the United States. More than a century later, AG Bell is extending its reach across the Atlantic with a new office in Madrid.
The launch of AG Bell International in October 2017 came after several years of conversations between AG Bell CEO Emilio Alonso-Mendoza and the executive director of Madrid-based groups CLAVE and Fundación Oir Es Clave. “The more we spoke, the more we found that we had a lot in common, in terms of not only personalities, but goals for both of our organizations,” says Alonso-Mendoza.
Plus, AG Bell was looking for ways to increase its international impact. “We started exploring what we could do together,” he says, and that led to the acquisition of the Spanish organizations.
AG Bell International will act as the organization’s European headquarters, but Alonso-Mendoza hopes that it will also provide a gateway to serving the 450 million people who speak Spanish around the world.
“For nearly 10 years, CLAVE has followed AG Bell’s vision and model throughout Spain and Latin America very effectively,” he said in a press release. “We see this acquisition as the perfect opportunity to reach Spanish speakers with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them, not only in Spain but throughout all Spanish-speaking populations, including those in the United States.”
AG Bell International has kept all of the former CLAVE and Fundación Oir Es Clave staff and is working to integrate them with the U.S.-based staff through regular video conference calls and in-person meetings. Some of the first agenda items include producing lectures in Spanish for professionals, parents, and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing, which will then be available via webcast online.
“We will then assess conditions in different Spanish-speaking countries to help professionals and families,” says Alonso-Mendoza. “We want to identify what is most needed and collaborate with those countries via AG Bell International to reinforce that a child who is born today can live a life without limits. What’s most important is that a child with hearing loss is identified early and that he or she gets early intervention, and that’s one message that we want to send all over the world. And now we have a base for that.”