"Listen to the Children" Tour Benefits Asia Pacific Region
McDonell, Viktorija, Volta Voices
Public awareness and accessibility of information and technology are two principal challenges faced by individuals with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them in the Asia Pacific region.
These challenges vary considerably throughout this vast geographic area and are caused largely by differences in socioeconomic and political conditions.
Many of the approximately 125 cochlear implant programs that operate in the region have staff who are still developing their services and skills, highlighting the critical need for professional development opportunities and resources.
In February 2006, the "Listen to the Children" tour traveled to Japan, Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka to share information about current auditory habilitation techniques and issues related to children who have cochlear implants. Through talks and workshops presented by Warren Estabrooks, M.Ed., Dip. Ed. Deaf, Cert. AVT®, as well as public events, the tour sought to demonstrate methods that professionals at area cochlear implant programs could use to improve current practice. The tour also provided a forum For parents of children with hearing loss to network and obtain information about communication options and created opportunities for professionals to exchange information and to establish a regional professional network.
Estabrooks led a similar lecture tour in 2004 through Malaysia, Singapore and India that focused on introducing the principles of auditory habilitation and raising awareness about the early detection of hearing loss. The "Listen to the Children" tour provided Estabrooks with the opportunity to learn about the progress parents and professionals who attended previous events are making and to reach new audiences.
Approximately 80 cochlear implant programs have been developed in Japan since 1985, the year the country's first cochlear implant surgery was performed, and the national health care system has offered full reimbursement for all cochlear implant services for over 10 years. More than 4,000 people, 36 percent of whom are children under age 18, have received cochlear implants.
The tour events in Japan were key components of the Habilitation Outreach for Professionals in Education (HOPE) program, a program developed by Cochlear Limited to respond to the needs of parents and professionals seeking training and resources to help children maximize the benefits of cochlear implant technology. A key objective was to raise awareness about the importance of early auditory-based intervention, a primary factor in achieving positive outcomes.
In Tokyo, Estabrooks was the guest speaker at a HOPE master class. The two-day master class was the third and final phase in the HOPE International Exchange Program, which provides clinicians, speech-language pathologists and education professionals in Japan with detailed information regarding international best practices in diagnostic assessment, habilitation and education issues to enhance the clinical management of children receiving cochlear implants. The first two phases of the training occurred prior to the tour.
"It was both stimulating and difficult for me to analyze my own therapy session as part of a group," remarked one attendee. "This experience has prompted me to set new goals for what is possible."
The concluding event, a "Listening for Life" workshop, was attended by more than 100 parents and professionals from across Japan. It introduced attendees to Auditory-Verbal therapy and its applications for children with cochlear implants.
Many of Japan's 107 schools for the deaf and 27 preschool education centers for children who are deaf or hard of hearing use manual forms of communication in their habilitation programs, and parents and professionals were interested in learning more about auditory-based habilitation for achieving optimal outcomes for children using cochlear implant technology. Workshop attendees also discussed the need to improve access for families to auditory habilitation services within the existing educational framework
The first cochlear implant surgery in Malaysia was performed in 1995. …