Deaf children from the rural Eastern Free State in South Africa need to travel for 7 hours to the nearest government hospital where audiological services are offered. Waiting lists at this facility are 4-6 months, and the funds to supply hearing aids usually runs out well before the end of the financial year. Our project will provide these children with a brighter future, as better accessibility to audiological services will improve their chances of learning to talk and attending local schools.
Children who need further hearing tests referred from screening projects at the local clinics will receive a full hearing test at our clinic within two weeks of referral. Deaf babies will receive state-of-the-art hearing aids within two weeks after diagnosis. This will eliminate the need to wait and travel extensively to attend appointments, as research has shown that every day counts when dealing with hearing loss. They will also be provided with auditory-verbal therapy and speech therapy.
Hearing loss in children affects communication, emotional development, academic performance, social isolation and employment later on in life. By helping deaf children in a timely manner and providing them with support, we aim to improve their language skills, help them excel in mainstream schools and give them equal opportunities for employment as their normal-hearing friends. We aim to help 12 - 16 out of 1000 children from birth to 18 years of age, as this is the current prevalence rate.