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 6+ 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! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Paying it Forward

A key goal of our Vietnam program is to prepare the Vietnamese professionals we train to train others in Vietnam so the benefits are exponential and sustainable. 

During these next 2 weeks, we'll be supporting that vision during our Summer Training Program in Da Nang. Vietnamese therapists and teachers we have trained over the years have joined our professional team to teach their peers aspects of our auditory-verbal practice curriculum. Our Global Foundation professionals will serve as mentors to the Vietnamese trainers.  

It all starts tomorrow along with a training program in pediatric audiology for audiology technicians in the region. Over 70 people are scheduled take part in our training efforts these next two weeks. Today, we worked hard together to prepare....and then made time for fun together too. Here we go!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Here We Go!

And we're off! 

Today marks the start of our seventh-annual 2016 Summer Training Program in Vietnam. This week in Dong Nai, we're focused on continuing the professional development of eleven of our program's most advanced Vietnamese audiology technicians who work in the provinces and also training 10 area technicians newer to pediatric audiology. 

Thank you to our friends at Hear the World Foundation for the technical and financial support as well as the treasure trove of hearing aids that will be fit on young children this week who are served by the Vietnamese technicians, teachers, and therapists we have trained.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Contributing to a Global Discussion

Global Foundation Executive Director Paige Stringer was honored to be invited to take part in a week-long series of meetings at the World Health Organization in Geneva related to a pending resolution that, if passed, would raise visibility of hearing loss among the WHO members states.  

The first session focused on developing tools and indicators that health ministries could use in developing their national hearing health plans. It was an interesting forum on global public health policy and how hearing health specifically gets fit into that framework on a national level.  

The second session featured a larger group that included representatives from the first two days and also others from different NGOs, clinics, and universities from around the world.  All the working groups were tasked to determine strategies that would unify support for the WHO efforts and raise awareness generally. 

The work, and Paige's involvement, will continue on in support of the WHO resolution effort.  It was a truly remarkable week and an honor to contribute a small role in fostering lasting change in global hearing health. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Furthering Expertise in Hanoi Hospitals

The goal of our Hospital Program is to support the professional development of the Vietnamese medical community who provide pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal therapy services to Vietnamese children 0-6 years of age in clinical settings. 

Our March Hospital Program took place at the Hanoi National ENT Hospital. Thirty medical professionals and audiology technicians representing six hospitals and two clinics in Hanoi and 17 therapists from Hanoi and six surrounding provinces participated.   The instruction was provided by five Global Foundation professionals who volunteered their time and expertise. All but one have been to Vietnam at least twice.

The skill level of therapists was strong which was a clear indication of progress from our last program in Hanoi. Knowledge sharing of the Global Foundation's teachings in AV practice is taking place as some of the therapists were new to our program and yet were already familiar with the Global Foundation's Vietnam developmental charts and approaches. The AVT training program combined lecture with practicum in therapy sessions with young children and their parents. 

The Audiology training for the ENT professionals and technicians focused primarily on protocols, programming hearing aids, mapping cochlear implants, and addressing difficult cases. Practicum with children demonstrated strong audiology skills among Vietnamese technicians and doctors. Hearing aids donated by GN Resound to our program were fit on young children in need during the clinical sessions. These children will be supported ongoing by the technicians and therapists we have trained.