It has been ascertained that very few children are born totally deaf. Many children with hearing impairment have slight residual hearing, and with powerful hearing aids, often, the gift of hearing can be restored. With a little effort made in the first few years, these children can also be taught to speak and function in a relatively regular manner. If successful, the child can then integrate into society and even join a mainstream school.
Presently most children are not screened for hearing impairment until later in life, which makes the restoration of the hearing impairment very difficult in Sri Lanka.
Parents of hearing impaired children are considered the best teachers of their children. They have to play a vital role in the rehabilitation program once hearing has been restored. Parent guidance and counseling is exceptionally necessary to make them feel confident of themselves first and then approach the child. Sometimes the whole family needs to be counseled. At present there is no proper confidential place to talk to the parents or to store the data collected, which compounds the problem.
The main focus of the Ratmalana Audiology Centre project is the introduction of digital technology driven diagnostic equipment, facilitating early detection of hearing deficiencies of infants, previously unavailable in Sri Lanka.
The Ratmalana Audiology Centre seeks to extend ‘access’ through modern technology. The facility, constructed at the premises of the Ceylon School for the Deaf and Blind is a gift from Dialog to enrich the nation through inclusion. It provides end-to-end services to the hearing impaired and the general public with the help of technologically advanced audiological equipment.
The building consists of a clinic equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, rooms equipped with group hearing aid systems, one computer aided teaching classroom, an Individual speech therapy room, a counseling room, a hearing aid dispensing unit and a hearing aid repair unit. The Centre therefore functions as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the hearing impaired, providing the end user a complete solution.
The project demonstrates Dialog’s commitment to bridging the digital divide for the hearing impaired.