Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Global Foundation Receives 2017/18 Richard Seewald Award

It was a special honor for the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss to receive the 2017/18 Richard Seewald Award from Hear the World Foundation.

Hear the World Foundation explains "The annual prize honors outstanding projects benefiting people in need with hearing loss around the world." 

We have great respect for Dr. Seewald's contributions to hearing health care, especially in the area of pediatrics, and to be recognized with an award in his name is humbling. We are also tremendously grateful to Hear the World Foundation for its financial and technical support of our work over the past several years. 

The full press release announcing the Richard Seewald Award to the Global Foundation can be found here . 

Our Work in Mongolia: Update from the Field

There are about 309,000 children in Mongolia (11% of the total population) between 0-5 years of age, the critical years of language development. Since there is currently no universal hearing screening for infants and young children in the country, the potential is great for late identification of hearing loss which can permanently affect their language development.

The Mongolia Ministry of Health issued a decree in 2014 in response to this gap in services to develop and implement a national newborn hearing screening program. Further, the medical community recognizes a need to build professional capacity to support the audiological and early intervention needs of babies and children identified with hearing loss. 

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health to carry out a mutli-year program that will address these critical needs. The implementation of this project, which includes equipment and training for Mongolia’s maternal and regional hospitals, will have a direct and lasting significant positive impact on thousands of children with hearing loss in Mongolia over time.

The program launched in September 2016 when the Global Foundation supplied hearing screening devices to the maternal and child hospitals in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.  Training on use of the equipment was also provided. This event enabled the first large-scale hearing screening initiative to begin in Mongolia. Prior to this distribution of equipment, there was only one hospital that had the capability to screen newborns and at a very limited scale.  It is estimated that 200 babies will be identified with hearing loss each year as a result of this effort. This does not account for the toddlers and young children who will also benefit from the new capacity to screen for hearing loss that did not previously exist.

Since then, the Mongolians and the Global Foundation have worked together to continue training, develop new procedures for screening babies in the country, and to design a system for managing referrals of babies who do not pass their hearing screening. 

In addition, the Global Foundation has provided training to medical professionals in pediatric audiology and therapists and teachers in auditory-verbal therapy. Speech therapy in general, and auditory-verbal practice specifically, is a new profession in Mongolia, so it is exciting to be on the ground floor of this development of care.

Both the Global Foundation pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal speech therapy training programs are designed to be taught over a period of time to the same participants so they can build their skills. The top participants will eventually be prepared to teach the Global Foundation curriculum to others in the country, making the benefits exponential and sustainable. The material is taught by the Global Foundation’s team of specialists in pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal practice, many of whom are recognized international experts in their fields.

The Global Foundation has also provided workshops for families of children with hearing loss. These are designed to raise family understanding of their children’s hearing and what they can do at home to help their children overcome the effects of hearing loss. 

This 3-minute video that captures highlights of our on-site training and development efforts in Mongolia in September 2017: 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WHO Resolution on Hearing Health Approved

Over the past few years, the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss has contributed to dedicated efforts within the World Health Organization to raise awareness for the issue of hearing health care, and specifically, pediatric hearing loss. The work centered around supporting a proposed resolution that would boost commitment to hearing health care in ministry health plans globally.

We are so pleased to share that this resolution was unanimously approved and adopted by delegates at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva this week. 

The new resolution calls on governments worldwide to integrate ear and hearing care into their primary health systems; implement prevention and screening programs; improve access to cost-effective, high-quality, hearing technologies including hearing aids and cochlear implants; establish training programs for health workers; and implement regulations for the control of noise in various settings. It emphasizes the importance of ensuring universal access to prevention and care.

This outcome will provide new direction and impetus to the hearing health care cause. The Global Foundation looks forward to joining its colleagues around the world to help deliver on the vision set by this exciting new resolution. 

You can find the full statement of the resolution here .
To view the WHO press release, please click here .

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Newborn Hearing Screening in Mongolia

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss has partnered with the Mongolia medical community to support a Ministry of Health initiative to identify babies and young children with hearing loss in Mongolia and provide appropriate treatment. Early identification of hearing loss and subsequent early intervention services are essential for a young child with hearing loss to develop on par with hearing peers. 

This week, the Global Foundation successfully distributed hearing screening equipment to all five hospitals in the capitol of Ulaanbaatar that work with young children – three maternal hospitals, a pediatric hospital, and a general hospital -- with the support of the Peace Avenue Ulaanbaatar Rotary Club.  Rotary clubs in Seattle and Mongolia contributed funds to help finance the cost of the equipment. The three maternal hospitals in Ulaanbaatar serve 45% of all babies born in Mongolia.  Collectively, it is anticipated that these five hospitals in the capitol will screen about 35,000 babies annually once the intra-hospital newborn hearing screening process is fully implemented. 

We also partnered with our equipment supplier, PATH Medical, to lead a training workshop on newborn hearing screening programs/strategies and use of the equipment. Thirty-three Mongolian ENT doctors, pediatricians, nurses, and therapists from the five hospitals attended the training along with colleagues from private hospitals in the area. Our favorite highlight was visiting the hospital nurseries where the participants practiced screening newborn babies less than 24 hours old.  There is nothing like a cute baby – and all babies are cute!  

The Mongolians were grateful to have this equipment and training.  We are now working together on plans for a training program in pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal practice so the Mongolians are best prepared to support their babies and young children identified with hearing loss through this initiative.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Ripple Effect of a Powerful Idea

The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss works in Vietnam throughout the year primarily providing training, but also supplying audiology equipment, therapy resources, and consultation support to help the Vietnamese improve pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal practice services for their children with hearing loss 0-6 years of age.  We provide hearing aids to children in need who are then supported ongoing by the Vietnamese professionals we train to ensure they benefit fully from the hearing aids to learn to listen and talk. 

After over six years of work, a solid foundation of support exists for young children with hearing loss that was not as evident when we started the program.  There are many success stories and our program has touched lives, some in surprising ways.
For example, we expanded our pool of interpreters in 2012 by adding local university students majoring in English to our stable of professional interpreters.  We were fortunate in that we could not have selected a more dedicated, proactive, interested, compassionate, and intelligent group of students. They did not know much about hearing loss when they joined us but were a quick study in the technical terms used in audiology and auditory-verbal practice and took their task seriously in learning how to serve as effective interpreters. 

Over the years, many of them continued working with us. They helped translate our materials and interpreted our training programs and video sessions. Their efforts helped greatly in facilitating smooth communication between our Global Foundation professional team and the Vietnamese. In the process, these interpreters learned a great deal about pediatric hearing loss.  They have all since graduated. A few of these students are now working in the hearing industry and related fields in Vietnam.  This was an unexpected, wonderful bonus to know that our program inspired them.   

Thuan An Center is one of the largest educational programs for children with hearing loss in Vietnam and one of our main partners.  We trained their staff each year since 2010 and helped to build their early intervention and audiology programs. The high quality hearing aids provided by the Global Foundation helped the children hear as well as possible. The children benefited from the local expertise, quality hearing technology, and resources. More children are moving from Thuan An Center's early intervention program to mainstream schools each year.  This was not a reality prior to our working relationship. Thuan An Center is now recognized in Vietnam as a center of excellence in early intervention for children with hearing loss. 

The Rose School is another shining example of success.  The director of that program has participated in the Global Foundation’s training courses since 2010, first in early intervention, then auditory-verbal practice, and finally pediatric audiology.  She started a center in her province with a curriculum that is based on the Global Foundation’s teachings and offers early intervention services for children with hearing loss.  In 2014, she designated a space in the center for educational audiology services and, with our help, secured equipment. This audiology room has been beneficial for supporting the children’s hearing needs in timely fashion.  

Today, there are about 70 children with hearing loss under 6 years of age who attend the Rose School for early intervention and audiology services. There are graduates of the Rose School now attending the local mainstream school.  Some of these children return to Rose School for extra support as needed and/or continued therapy while pursuing their education in the mainstream setting.
Their dynamic director absorbed the teachings provided by the Global Foundation consistently over the years and has made use of those lessons in the best possible way --- by establishing a center to serve children with hearing loss. 

When this program started in 2010, we knew that our team of 65 talented Global Foundation professionals would contribute to making a real difference for the children, families and professionals in Vietnam. They are an exceptional group of professionals who have volunteered hours of their time to help the Vietnamese enhance their skills and knowledge. But what we did not immediately realize was the impact that the experience of developing and teaching our curriculum in Vietnam would have on our professionals’ practice at home.  

Many of our team members have told us that working with the Global Foundation has made them more effective in their own careers.  They point to the opportunity to collaborate and learn from other Global Foundation team members in preparing and teaching the material, consider different learning and teaching strategies, and engage with a different culture with its own set of values and ways of doing things. We think this feedback is more proof that international exchange can help us become more compassionate, understanding, and ultimately, the best people we can be.

And those are just a few examples of the impact of our work in Vietnam. The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss and our team of professionals cast a pebble in a pond, and we are unable to see the extent of the ripples although we know they go far. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 Vietnam Summer Training Report

In July 2016, we led three weeks of training in Vietnam with workshops covering pediatric audiology, auditory-verbal therapy, and auditory-verbal classroom for Vietnamese teachers, therapists, and audiology technicians supporting young children with hearing loss. 

Our Dong Nai program offered two workshops in pediatric audiology. One program continued to build local expertise in our most advanced audiology technicians. These technicians have been in our program for several years. Other audiology technicians from within the Dong Nai province, Ho Chi Minh City, and surrounding areas joined our beginning-level workshop taking place at the same time to start to develop foundational skills in pediatric audiology.  

The Dong Nai advanced level workshop combined lecture with clinics. During the clinics, the Vietnamese followed recognized standards of care in testing children and programming and verifying the fit of hearing aids provided to children in need. Most of the children were between 1 – 4 years of age and came from early intervention centers throughout the South and will be supported in their listening and language development ongoing by the Vietnamese audiology technicians, teachers and therapists we have trained.  Other children with hearing loss were those we have supported over time and are now entering mainstream schools. 

We also hosted a Parent Night for families of children with hearing loss. The advanced-level Vietnamese audiology technicians led the Parent Night along with our Global Foundation audiology professionals, educating families about their children's hearing and the role they can play in helping their children progress in their development. 

In Danang, we had three training tracks: pediatric audiology, auditory-verbal therapy, and auditory-verbal classroom. Global Foundation audiologists led the training in pediatric audiology for audiology technicians working in Danang and several cities around central Vietnam. On the education/therapy side, we invited six Vietnamese teachers and therapists who have been in our training program since 2010 to join us in Danang. Their role was to serve as trainers to 40 local therapists and classroom teachers all working with young children with hearing loss.
This was the first time that we formally incorporated Vietnamese professionals we have trained as trainers in our workshops.

The Danang program for teachers and therapists combined lecture with live therapy and classroom sessions with children 3-6 years old and their parents  This was an opportunity for the participants to practice what they learned in real situations.  It was also an opportunity for the Vietnamese trainers to coach their peers.  The Global Foundation professionals who joined this effort served as mentors to the Vietnamese trainers. 

A key goal of our program in Vietnam is not only to prepare the Vietnamese to do the work of supporting the children themselves, but also to train others in the country to make the benefits of the Global Foundation training efforts exponential and sustainable. So, this summer was a big step towards achieving that goal.

We hosted Parent Nights in Danang that were well attended by local families of children with hearing loss. The Vietnamese trainers and the Global Foundation professionals collaborated in providing interactive presentations and activities to teach parents about their children’s hearing loss and how to support their children’s listening and spoken language progress at home.  

This was our seventh consecutive summer training program in Vietnam. We are pleased at the progress being made by the professionals and families in Vietnam to not only absorb the knowledge we share, but to apply it in meaningful ways that will help their young children with hearing loss achieve their full potential.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It Takes a Village

Here is an example of how our Vietnam program is reaping benefits for young children with hearing loss and their families. It started with our pediatric audiology training program this week in Da Nang when our Vietnamese audiology technicians had the opportunity to work with a 8 month old baby newly identified with hearing loss. The baby was fit with new hearing aids provided by the Global Foundation during our audiology practicum. But hearing aids alone are not enough. 

The challenge is that the family lives in an area with limited professional support in audiology and speech therapy to help this baby make use of his new hearing aids to process sounds and learn to listen and talk. 

One of the Vietnamese therapists we have trained over the years in Auditory-Verbal Therapy is here with us in Da Nang as a trainer. She has offered to provide therapy assistance to the family of the baby via Internet tools. But even better is her willingness to serve as mentor to one of the therapists enrolled in this week's AVT training program who happens to live in the family's town. This emerging therapist will help the family develop the baby's language locally in the town where they live with the support of the more advanced Vietnamese therapist trained by the Global Foundation. 

In addition, the family will receive audiology support from the audiology technicians we have been training in Da Nang. It is exciting that this baby will have the support he needs to benefit fully from hearing aids!