IM this article to a friend!

September 22, 2005

Kids receive gift of better hearing

From:, South Africa - Sep 22, 2005

Fifteen hearing aids were recently donated to underprivileged children at the Carel du Toit Centre, opposite the Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, by Widex, the leaders in hearing aid technology.

General manager of Widex South Africa, P.K. Nagin, addressed parents and staff, and presented the hearing aids to learners attending the school on Wednesday, 21 September. The event came about after Deidré Stroebel, an audiologist serving the communities of Cape Town’s northern suburbs, established a need to make hearing aids available to children at the centre.

“Giving is one human trait that can bring out the humanity in us. Together as a community we can help,” says Nagin. “Widex aims at creating platforms to empower those with hearing loss. It is only those who can hear, that can help those who cannot.”

Health24’s Hearing Loss peer forum expert, Gerhard van der Merwe, was also present. He was a learner at the school and now serves on the trust fund for the Carel du Toit Centre. Through his education at the centre, Van der Merwe was able to attend mainstream schools. He is now actively involved in community work, and has become a successful businessman, serving as a managing director for a snack food company.

Digital hearing aids open up the world
In 1997, van der Merwe was fitted with a Widex digital hearing aid. It was the first digital generation of hearing aids available at the time. “You have to work on speech and sounds that are not easy to hear. With digital hearing aids, you can hear sounds that you were previously not able to hear,” according to Van der Merwe.

Annerina Verschoor, an audiologist at the school, and Stroebel, will fit the hearing aids soon after the school holidays, at the centre. They will assess the children’s hearing needs, tune the hearing aid, and then fit them to the children’s ears. The fitting process can take up to an hour. Thereafter, the child is closely monitored for a few weeks, and the hearing aid is constantly adjusted to suit the needs of the child.

Parents and grandparents were present at the event and the children of the school gave a short performance for the audience. After the initial ceremony, parents were given the opportunity to share their experiences in coming to terms with their children’s hearing loss.

The centre, which serves as a pre-school for children with hearing loss, is divided into two sections. A dedicated parent guidance centre is situated directly opposite the school. It is here where children, accompanied by at least one parent, receive individual sessions from therapists. The sessions involve taking part in everyday situations such as cooking, bathing and play. The classrooms are designed in such a way that they mimic the typical rooms of a home, such as a kitchen or a bathroom.

By observing and handling various objects used in the activities, the children are able to distinguish various sounds and speech. “Ninety percent of language is caught, not taught,” says Verschoor.

She says it is vital that a parent is present during these sessions as it creates bonding sessions with their child and also serves as motivation for the parent. “It is important that the parent becomes an active, rather than a passive member. A mother is always an important figure to her child,” according to Verschoor.

Therapy – the sooner, the better
When a hearing impairment is identified, the child will start receiving therapy immediately. The centre attempts to give therapy to hearing-impaired children before they reach three months of age and also aims at fitting cochlear implants before the age of six months.

The main aim of the Carel du Toit Centre is to prepare children with hearing loss for the ‘hearing world’ and to integrate them into the mainstream education system. The school educates young learners up until the age of six. Next year, the centre plans to introduce a grade one model into the system.

To mark Hearing Loss Awareness Month, Widex is sponsoring hearing tests for the local community. Those who are interested, can contact the Sharecall number on 0860 326 061. A voucher will be posted to readers and they will be directed to the nearest hearing care professional in their area.

(Matthew Louw, Health24, September 2005)

Read more:
Visit Health24’s Hearing Management Centre, or ask a question to the Hearing Care expert.

© Health24 2000-2005. All rights reserved