Friday, August 1, 2014

Path to Sustainability

A key goal of our Vietnam Program is to develop Vietnamese professionals in audiology and auditory-verbal practice who will not only be better prepared to work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also have the skills and confidence to train other Vietnamese professionals and families.

We have 38 schools for the deaf and early intervention centers and 2 hospitals in this program representing 20 provinces throughout South Vietnam. More and more children are directly benefiting from the understanding and expertise of those we are training in our program.  The scale of our work has helped to spread awareness that young children with hearing loss can indeed learn to listen and talk if they have appropriate support and hearing technology. There has been growing interest in our work and the training we provide.

Thuy and I made a decision early on that we would would focus our program on the same group of Vietnamese educational professionals over time. We could have chosen to add more Vietnamese teachers and therapists to our program each year, as the demand was certainly there. However, we felt sustainability would be more easily achieved if we focused our efforts on a core group of 72 Vietnamese teachers and therapists. Then, they could go back to their home communities and share their learning with others, making the result of our efforts exponential and sustainable.

This week and next week, our Global Foundation professionals are working with our most advanced group of Vietnamese education professionals in the Level 5 early intervention, therapy, and classroom tracks. The majority of them are demonstrating outstanding competencies in key areas of AV Practice. It has been wonderful to observe the therapy and classroom sessions this week and see the children engaged and learning -- and having fun while doing so -- under the tutelage of their Vietnamese teachers and therapists. It is clear that several of our participants are ready to learn the art of teaching what they know to other professionals.

Our Global Foundation team turned over leadership of this week's Family Night to the Level 5 early intervention therapists.  Together, they developed presentations on topics related to auditory memory, vocabulary, and speech development.  On Wednesday night, the Vietnamese proudly stood at the front of the room, confident and ready to present the material to the parents. Several of their peers were in attendance as well, lending moral support. It was like watching one's children at a graduation or something - we were all so proud of them! They did a good job presenting and answering the families' questions at the end of the night.

Our team is helping the Vietnamese professionals further develop skills to teach other professionals.  But, many in our Level 5 program have already been sharing.  Earlier this year, a group of our Level 5 Vietnamese therapists took part in a training program in Nha Trang where they educated therapists and families there about AV Practice. Vietnamese taking initiative to teach other Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese contacted me to tell me about this training and to request permission to use our materials in this effort. I  could not have been more pleased and prouder to say, "Yes, of course."

The commitment of our Vietnamese participants has helped make our program the success it is. We plan to support their efforts to share knowledge derived from our teachings to more and more people.  The result will be sustainability and an overall improvement to a system of support for young children with hearing loss throughout their country.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

US Consul General Rena Bitter Visits

Today was a big day for our Vietnam program. The US Consul General came to visit! She pulled up to Thuan An Center in a fleet of shiny black diplomat cars. There was also a gaggle of local media that followed representing the provincial television stations and newspapers.

The US Consulate of Ho Chi Minh City has been a long-time supporter of our Vietnam Program. It was an honor to have the opportunity to show first-hand with Rena Bitter the impact of their trust and investment in us and how children with hearing loss can learn to listen and talk.

We began the day with an overview of our program in Thuy's office, then moved into the therapy rooms to observe the program in action. When we walked in the first room, the media crews followed. The cameras were a bit distracting  – but the little girl with hearing loss in this therapy session didn't skip a beat. In fact, she got chatty with all the adults in the room, stealing our hearts with sweet comments about Rena’s curly hair and Thuy’s ao dai.

They had just finished reading a book during the therapy session and so the little girl took initiative to bring the book over to Rena to show her.  With some encouragement, she proceeded to read the book to her. Her hearing aids were in full view. She had no qualms talking with the US Consul General.  It was a wonderful, spontaneous moment.

Ms Bitter's visit was aired on the 6:00 news tonight in Vietnam and there the local newspaper will run an article about it tomorrow.  You can read more about the event on the US Consulate of Ho Chi Minh City's website at:: http://hochiminh.usconsulate.gov/highlight-072914.html 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 2 Done!

Our  Education Program got underway in the second week of our Vietnam Summer Training Program.  We have seven professionals from the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss here working with the Vietnamese teachers and therapists in early intervention, kindergarten classroom, and auditory-verbal therapy.

The goal of the two-week course is to help the Level 4 therapists and teachers continue to progress in their knowledge and skills for helping young children with hearing loss under 6 years of age  learn to listen and talk. The Vietnamese are learning about child development, speech and language assessment, and how to set goals and strategies to help children with hearing loss overcome developmental delays to catch up to normal hearing peers.  The two week course combines time for theory and planning with live sessions with young children to carry out the elements that they are learning.

Meanwhile, on the Audiology side, three audiologists and an audiology graduate student from the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss are working with our intermediate and advanced level audiology technicians. The goal here is to further skills in pediatric testing for hearing loss and diagnosis, hearing aid fitting, and case management.  There are about 90 children enrolled in the Education program who have been scheduled to come in last week and this coming week for hearing evaluations by the Vietnamese technicians with guidance and oversight from the Global Foundation audiologists.  

Aside from the training, we have secured additional audiology equipment for one of the regional audiology centers that we have targeted to support. This center's technicians have received training from the Global Foundation over the years and are already complementing services provided by clinics in Ho Chi Minh City with a modicum of audiology care to children in the rural region surrounding the school outside the city.  Our efforts to boost the equipment resources there will have an immediate positive impact.

All the courses in our Summer Training Program across audiology and education take place at Thuan An Center. This enables our Global Foundation professionals to emphasize the importance of teaming and working together across functions to address the needs of children with hearing loss. There have been instances this past week where a child was not performing well in her therapy or classroom sessions. In other instances, the technicians needed more information about how a given child is hearing in everyday life.  We are encouraging the teachers, therapists, and audiology technicians in our program to connect with each other about such cases so they can troubleshoot and address situations together.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It Takes a Team

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss stresses the importance of cross-functional collaboration across ENT, audiology, and education for positive outcomes in children with hearing loss. Such cross-functional teams leverage the expertise of each professional member to provide more consistent communication, smoother alignment, and better support for families of children with hearing loss. 

This week, our Summer Training Program in Vietnam got underway with a short workshop focused on this topic for teachers, therapists, and audiology technicians. In addition to group lectures, there were small breakouts for each functional area to build their respective levels of understanding of audiology and speech and language.

During the last two days of the workshop, the approximately 50 participants were divided into three groups to work together to assess six children with hearing loss who were invited in to join this program. A few years ago, some members of the Global Foundation team worked with the Vietnamese teachers and therapists to adapt existing English-based language resources to Vietnamese norms to create the Global Foundation Development Charts. These charts delineate the first 6 years of child development in core areas.  It is a road map of sorts to help teachers, therapists, and families determine where a Vietnamese child with hearing loss is in their development and identify strategies to help them overcome delays.  

Using these charts, the teachers prepared case history information for the 6 children with hearing loss who joined us this week.  On Thursday and Friday, the teachers, therapists, and audiology technicians reviewed together the case histories and audiograms of each child. Then, the children were brought in for additional audiology testing and assessment. At the conclusion of the day, we regrouped to discuss their findings.  This exercise was extremely valuable to the learning process. The teachers and therapists have a better understanding of what the technicians do and the technicians have more clarity around what information the teachers need and why. There is now more synergy across both groups to collaborate more closely together to best serve the children moving forward.  

The Global Foundation audiologists also engaged with the Vietnamese this week to further progress to develop a Vietnamese language speech perception test for young children with hearing loss. A speech perception test enables professionals to gauge a child's ability to hear speech sounds and to adjust hearing aids and cochlear implants as n
ecessary to achieve the best outcomes in their language development.  The teachers, therapists, and technicians are enthusiastic about such a tool and are helping to bring it to reality. 

This highly successful week was another example of the Global Foundation's approach. Not only are our Global Foundation team members sharing their technical expertise, but they are also collaborating with the Vietnamese to help improve processes and tools. The result is long-term benefit to the overall system of support for children with hearing loss and their families. 


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vietnam Summer Training Program 2014

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss is in Vietnam for its fifth
Summer Training Program which all gets started next week.

Our team of 14 teaching professionals hail from the USA and Canada and are leaders in their respective fields. They will be teaching a curriculum that spans pediatric audiology, early intervention, and auditory verbal practice for children with hearing loss under 6 years of age.  About 100 Vietnamese teachers, therapists, medical professionals, and audiology technicians will make their way on motorbikes and buses from throughout Vietnam to Thuan An Center in Binh Duong province to board and take part in various tracks during our five-week program.  Our team of awesome interpreters will join us to ensure smooth communication between all involved.

The first week is devoted solely to audiology training for 40 teachers and 15 audiology technicians. We created this course in response to the Vietnamese teachers' request for more training in this area as teachers are often the first interface with families concerned about their children’s hearing. Joining the teachers are two levels of audiology technicians that we are training in our audiology program. The teachers and technicians will come together often during this training week  for lectures and group discussion around speech and audition. They will also discuss frameworks for teaming as collaboration amongst teachers, therapists, and audiology technicians is essential to a child with hearing loss and their family.

In the weeks to follow, 72 Vietnamese teachers and therapists will continue the Global Foundation's curriculum on auditory-verbal practice. Forty-five children under 6 years of age will take part in live training sessions with the teachers and therapists in kindergarten classroom, therapy, and early intervention.  

We will also continue instruction for 15 Vietnamese audiology technicians focused on developing their pediatric audiology skills. Approximately 80 children will be involved with the audiology program.  A supply of hearing aids will be fit  on children by Vietnamese technicians during the audiology family clinics. 

Our team has been invited to present at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City on July 8 starting at 5:00 pm. Those of you in Vietnam who are interested to learn more about our work, please join us!  No need to RSVP - just be sure to bring your passport for admission. 

Given the size of our program, there are simply not enough toys and books to go around for all the therapy and classroom training sessions we conduct over the course of the month. To address this, one of our team members created an Amazon.com wish list of educational toys and books. Any toys and books sourced from the wish list will remain in Vietnam for the children and families to use after we are finished this summer. If you are interested to contribute, here is the link to the list. Orders should be placed by July 14 and will be shipped to our team who will get them to Vietnam. Thank you! 

We'll be posting updates and stories from the program on this blog throughout the summer.  We hope you'll join us. Thank you for your support and.....here we go! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Join us and Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman!


Please join us on Friday May 23 for the Celebration of Hearing with #40 Derrick Coleman and the Seattle Seahawks! We'll gather from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at ROOT Sports Lounge at CenturyLink Field for a party in honor of Derrick’s inspiring story of overcoming odds to become NFL Super Bowl champion in spite of a severe hearing loss. The event benefits Special Teams for Hearing, five Seattle-based nonprofit organizations working in different aspects of the hearing loss field with the overall goal of betterment of life and opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This week Washington Governor Jay Inslee expressed his support for May Better Hearing & Speech Month, Derrick Coleman, the Celebration of Hearing event, and the five organizations that comprise Special Teams for Hearing:

video

The Special Teams for Hearing comprises of:
Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss
Listen and Talk
Seattle Children’s Hospital
University of Washington Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences
Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center

During the festive evening at CenturyLink Field, Guests will be able to engage with Derrick and his Seattle Seahawks teammates. There will be food, beverages, auctions, and live music. The program will present the innovative spirit and ingenuity of the hearing loss field that is turning possibilities into reality for people who are deaf or hard of hearing around the world.

We hope you'll come out for a fun evening in support of a great cause! Purchase tickets and for more information: http://specialteams.wix.com/celebrationofhearing


Friday, March 14, 2014

The Power of One and Team

I have two favorite quotes – the first, “if you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito”.  And the second  – “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world…indeed it is the only thing that ever has”

There is the power of one and there is also the power of collective.

Our Vietnam Deaf Education Program has been so successful because of the accountability and dedication that each person involved has brought to the effort.  The Global Foundation professionals volunteer their time and expertise year-round to helping the Vietnamese develop the skills, knowledge, and processes they need to support children with hearing loss. Its about empowering others to help their own.

The Vietnamese are applying what they learn to their work and sharing that knowledge. And, they are also acting as stewards of this program. For instance, we had an evening educational seminar for families of children with hearing loss a couple of programs ago that was held at a hotel instead of our usual school or hospital venue. The conference room where the seminar was to take place was difficult to find. Without any prompt from us, one of the Vietnamese teachers in our program - who drove four hours to attend, by the way -- stood outside and directed families into the hotel and up to the conference room. She missed the first hour of the seminar but it was more important to her that the families got the information they needed.

In another example, we had a need for a large volume of interpreters for our Summer Training Program. Concerned about the cost of so many interpreters and the potential impact on our budget, Thuy, our program partner, sought out a new relationship with the Hoa Sen University English department. She worked out an agreement with the administration there whereby students would have the opportunity to volunteer their translation and interpreting skills to our program in exchange for credit hours. This was her own idea and I only found out about it when the deal was done and all the pieces were in place. These students have stayed involved over time, bringing wonderful energy and compassion to the program.

At the same time, this program is about bringing together great minds in Vietnam and abroad to find and address gaps in the system of support so that children with hearing loss can reach their full potential in their hearing communities. Such a clearly articulated goal and a shared commitment towards achieving it makes the process of getting there much easier.  There is no "us" and "them" but rather a cross-cultural team that inspires - and is inspired by - each other.

We have such an opportunity to leverage the power of team to set clear goals and drive to great outcomes. In the process, if we can each take personal responsibility for our contribution to the whole while also encouraging each other to do the same, well…the possibilities for achievement are truly unlimited.