Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist Devangi Dalal assures helping hearing-impaired children with the right hearing aid technology!

Mumbai:  In India, any kind of handicap is considered a curse, which is followed by a series of fallacies. Many kids with hearing impairment are perfectly capable of communicating with speech or spoken language but lack of right treatment and rehabilitation facilities keep them away from becoming part of the normal society and we label them as handicap and show sympathy towards them without realizing that they can be also part of the normal society.

The fact remains that these kids are not dumb or mute; they are not able to communicate clearly because they have not heard the words correctly due to their hearing disability. It is difficult for these kids to regulate the volume, pitch, or sound of their voices in a way that people can understand.

A child born with deafness is assumed to be dumb. This is because a child learns to talk through hearing and if a child’s hearing is damaged then it is presumed that the child is dumb as well. There are many factors that contribute to these children’s condition. Some of them being illiteracy, poverty, myths and misconceptions, linguistic barriers, social stigma, ignorance, lack of support from government bodies, and lack of support across the society.  Due to social stigma these disabilities are not seen or often overlooked, they prefer not to talk and out of the fear of being mocked or made fun of, they prefer to not use words at all to communicate and in turn, they shift to sign or gestural language.

It has to be understood that out of the global population of hearing-impaired people, 60 percent are children under the age of 15 and only 10 percent of these get proper treatment. That’s a very small percentage and due to lack of knowledge, it is assumed the kids are both hearing and speech impaired. It is estimated that out of every 1000 births in India, six are deaf. In our country, there are myths and misconceptions surrounding the hearing impaired. Since their disability is not visible, they are not considered as handicaps. However, this is not the case. The moment we see deaf children, we use fewer words.

It is important that the masses are educated about the deaf and mute people and how not everyone with hearing impairment is dumb. Government bodies and schools can play an important role in ensuring that these children are enrolled into normal schools with the right technology hearing aid to their individual requirements and are treated equally to other children. Encouraging them to use more words and ensure that they are not made fun of when they do as these kids are born with a disability and lack self-confidence.

It is of utmost importance to make them feel comfortable. Parents can play a central role as these kids spend most of their time either in school or with them. They can help children by understanding their lack of motivation and trying to work out a way to help them out. Parents, even teachers, should seek the help of professionals to help their child with speech therapy and get involved with the exercise at home and at school.

Apart from that, it is crucial to conduct hearing screening when a baby is born. Neonatal screening is a program that identifies babies at risk of having rare, but serious medical conditions that can affect normal development. Accordingly, the right treatment will be provided at the right age. Hence, neonatal screening should be made compulsory in India.

We aim to work for these children in a quality manner by providing the right treatment with the help of the right hearing aid technology, proper rehabilitation, and integration in society as normal children and try to make them independent and not a liability for their families.

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