In Brazil, needy children with hearing loss and their families often have to undertake long and costly journeys to receive audiological care. Together, with the Sorocaba Association for Hearing Impaired Children (APADAS), the Hear the World Foundation wants to change this—by training experts, so that, in the near future, there will be more local centers providing comprehensive audiological care to people in need. the Hear the World Foundation—a nonprofit founded in 2006 by hearing care solutions company Sonova—helps support hearing loss prevention and treatment for needy children around the world.
Brazil’s burgeoning population—currently over 200 million people and growing—is entitled to medical care, including free hearing aids and cochlear implants. Nevertheless, the provision of the needed follow-up care, including speech therapy, often founders due to a lack of centers offering comprehensive audiological care.
Research, Training, Audiological Care
For the 2.5 million people who live in the region around the industrial city of Sorocaba, east of São Paulo, APADAS plays a key role when it comes to comprehensive audiological care for needy children with hearing loss. Since its inception in 1988, the charitable organization has been committed on three fronts: research, providing audiological care, and training experts. This approach involves identifying and treating hearing loss as early as possible, the foundation needed for children to develop normal speech and language, which allows them to live their lives, free of limitations. In line with this approach, APADAS also undertakes support measures for children by educating their families and schools on the correct ways to deal with hearing loss.
Building Capacity—Expert Training
Currently, all infants and children from the region with suspected hearing loss are referred to Sorocaba, where they are given access by APADAS to expert audiological care. However, families from the 50 surrounding towns and cities are confronted with long travel times to visit the center, which can total up to six hours. This travel time will be significantly reduced in the future, thanks to funding from the Hear the World Foundation, which will allow experts to receive further training to create new, local points of contact for a wide range of services from initial screening to speech therapy.
Giving Hope: Swiss Musician Sings with Children
A very important aspect of speech therapy and care is showing empathy and giving hope. So, in May 2017, Hear the World ambassador and musician Marc Sway took over this mission and visited the APADAS project. The aim of his visit was to develop the language skills of needy children with hearing loss through music. Sway played music with the children, activated their sense of hearing, and motivated them, in a playful way, to develop their language skills. His engagement means a lot; language development as early as possible will help the children to speak properly so they will be able to go to school, offering them better future prospects.
Angelina Martinez, APADAS head, appreciates the importance of such VIP support: “Marc’s visit is about so much more than making music; he is showing the children that he believes in them and encouraging them to achieve their full potential.”
Sway was delighted that making music with the children in Sorocabo helped them with their language development. The children won’t forget his visit—the guitar-playing and singing has been fun and motivating and stimulated their hearing as well.
“I was amazed to see how carefree the children are about their hearing loss,” said Sway. “For them, it’s not as great a hindrance as it is for us adults. Many children sang for their first time with me without any shyness. That was a touching experience, which I will never forget.”
For a video of Sway’s performance, please click here for the YouTube video.
Source: Hear the World Foundation
Images: Hear the World Foundation