Giving kids the gift of hearing | Vietnam

It is essential for children to hear sound to develop spoken language. This project will fit children with hearing loss with hearing instruments to provide this access to sound. The low-cost hearing aid technology from Solar Ear, combined with early intervention and audiology support provided by teachers trained by the Global Foundation For Children with Hearing Loss, will ensure these children can participate more fully in a hearing world.

Technology

Solar Ear

Solar Ear

Solar Ear manufactures solar powered hearing aids by skilled young adults who are deaf for hearing impaired in developing countries.
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Need

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss, in collaboration with Ho Chi Minh City University and Thuan An Center in Vietnam, is conducting a multi-year Deaf Education Program. LEARN MORE »

Proposal Summary

Problem

Campaign amount
$18,137
Timeframe for implementation
June-July 2011

Hearing loss is one of the most common –and least recognized– disabilities among children.  The World Health Organization reports that as many as 3% of children in developing countries have severe to profound hearing loss.  Left undetected and untreated, pediatric hearing loss can lead to delayed speech and language development, academic challenges, reduced employment, and unfilled potential.

Many people unfamiliar with deafness assume that the sounds of life are closed to children with hearing loss. It is widely believed that these children will never learn to communicate through the spoken word. These assumptions are no longer true.  Earlier identification of hearing loss and advancements in hearing technology have made it possible for more children with all degrees of hearing loss to access sound and learn how to speak and hear. Think for just a moment about the life-changing impact that such developments can have on a child’s future.

All children attain language in the first six years of life, and the first three years are the most important. More than 90% of what babies learn is from incidental listening, and with listening comes spoken language.  As these skills are cultivated as we grow older, we naturally bond with our families, develop friendships, and engage in the larger community.

This normal progression is circumvented when hearing loss exists.  Children with hearing loss can acquire listening and spoken language skills, but doing so requires they have access to hearing aids and to essential education and professional services to help them interpret sound during the critical window of their development. There are three necessary ingredients for overcoming hearing loss:

  • early identification
  • access to hearing technology properly fitted to the child’s hearing loss
  • early intervention support provided by trained teachers

More hospitals in Vietnam are conducting hearing screenings of young children, which is leading to earlier identification of hearing loss. However, new hearing aids supplied by the world’s major hearing aid companies are often cost prohibitive (about $2000 USD each) to many families in Vietnam where the average annual salary is about $12,000 USD. This challenge is exacerbated by the shortage of teachers trained in Auditory Verbal Education and Early Intervention techniques to help these children develop listening and spoken language skills once they do receive hearing aids.

The Vietnamese have an inclusive education policy and wish to integrate children with hearing loss into mainstream schools. However, this requires these children develop spoken language and listening skills.  Recognizing a shortage of expertise in early intervention and auditory-verbal practices, the Vietnamese deaf education community requested the foundation provide its teachers with more training in this area of deaf education.

Proposed solution

It is essential for children to hear sound to develop spoken language. We need to fit children with hearing loss with hearing instruments to provide this access to sound. The low-cost hearing aid technology from Solar Ear, combined with early intervention and audiology support provided by teachers trained by the Global Foundation For Children with Hearing Loss, will ensure these children can participate more fully in a hearing world.

Number of people who will benefit

Approximately 30 children with hearing loss will directly benefit from the Solar Ear hearing aids. The training will benefit about 300 children with hearing loss.

About the beneficiaries

The Global Foundation provides hearing aids to children who attend the 35 schools for the deaf in its Deaf Education program. The Global Foundation’s team of audiologists collaborates with school administrators in advance to identify the candidates for hearing testing.  Once in Vietnam, our team audiologists test the hearing of the children, troubleshoot their existing hearing technology, and identify those who would best benefit from a hearing aid.  Recognizing that supply does not meet demand, we have parameters for eligibility and to establish priority. They are as follows:

  1. Degree of hearing loss – Children with moderate or severe hearing losses will benefit from hearing aids more than children with profound losses.  We in some instances do fit profound children with hearing aids but place priority on those who have more residual hearing.
  2. Age – All things being equal, the younger the deaf child is when provided with a hearing aid, the greater the potential benefit for the child.  Hence, we direct our hearing aids to children younger than 6 years of age.
  3. Income – We place priority on those children from low-income families (below $550 USD annually).
  4. Parent Involvement – We collaborate with the administrators at each school program to identify the families that are most involved with their children’s educational development. A hearing aid is most effective when the child who receives it has parent support and engagement.

Distribution

The Global Foundation will place an order with Solar Ear. Solar Ear will ship the units of hearing aids directly to the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss in Seattle, WA.  The foundation’s team will hand carry the technology into Vietnam and fit the Solar Ear hearing aids on the children during the June 27 – July 22, 2011 Teacher Training Workshop. The team will also provide the audiology support and early intervention training so the children can benefit from the hearing aids.

Budget Detail

Item Explanation Unit cost Quantity Cost
Product Cost of the technology 160 60 9,600
Shipping, clearance and local duty Cost of international shipping 1,080
Other Audiologist and fitting mission costs 5,000
Wire transfer fee One transfer to tech provider, one transfer to cover local duty and clearance 45 1 45
Paypal/other payment processing fee 3.3% average based on the average size of project and average donation amount 3.30% 599
Kopernik 10% In order to cover due diligence cost that Kopernik conducts 1,814
TOTAL BUDGET 18,137

Contribution of organization

The Global Foundation’s expert team of audiologists, auditory verbal teachers, speech pathologists, and early intervention specialists will contribute 4 weeks of unpaid volunteer time for the June – July Teacher Training Workshop. Our executive director will manage the coordination of the workshop and ensure the appropriate distribution of the hearing aids.

As an American nonprofit organization, we continue to raise money to support distribution of Solar Ear hearing aids and training to the schools participating in our Vietnam Deaf Education Program. Our staff puts in hundreds of unpaid, volunteer hours each month to raise money and facilitate support. Our organization has no paid employees.