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November 25, 2003

Wits fixes 'broken ears'

From: News24, South Africa - Nov 25, 2003

Johannesburg - A donation of over 1 000 hearing aids will allow deaf children to experience the gift of hearing for the first time, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, the university said a group of over 600 children would have hearing aids, valued from R5 000 to R10 000, fitted at Wits on Wednesday and Thursday.

The group were selected by ear-nose-and-throat (ENT) surgeons and audiologists who visited deaf schools throughout South Africa to assess potential candidates for hearing aids.

An audiologist at the Centre for Language and Hearing Impaired Children, affiliated to the Speech Therapy department at Wits University, Wendy Deverson said: "The centre has been co-ordinating the programme in terms of identifying the children and ensuring that they have had audiological testing.

"We will be there to provide back-up and counselling for all the children, once the hearing aids are fitted."

The United States-based Starkey Hearing Foundation donated the hearing aids.

Founder of the foundation, Bill Austin, said he was on a mission to "fix the broken ears of the world".

Austin, together with hearing aid fitters from the US, ENT surgeons, audiologists from the Wits Audiology Department and Medifix, would fit the hearing aids.

The foundation also sponsored the travel, training and accommodation of three groups of fitters who went to the US for training.

Austin said about 10% of the world's population could benefit from hearing aids.

The Foundation last year distributed 40 866 hearing aids worth US$35m, to needy children across the globe.

© 2003 News24