Role of the Community in the Welfare/Rehabilitation of persons with Hearing Impairment

Rehabilitation of hearing impaired persons (children/adults) is a challenge and requires special attention from a team of professionals attached to Govt. and/or Voluntary Organizations and a team of Community Level Workers.

The quality of life of persons with disabilities can only be improved when there is a close coordination, collaboration and cooperation between the community members including persons with disabilities, their parents/family members/friends and Govt. and/or voluntary organizations.

To meet the rehabilitation needs of persons with disabilities the community effective participation is necessary as the community has a big role to play in the whole process of rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.

There could be a number of matters which are required to be looked into at different stages of life of persons with disabilities and thus the focus should be on what is important at a particular stage for persons with disabilities.

Long Term Hearing Loss, Regardless of the cause, may cause speech Language Delay.

The parents of children should be provided support and advice to identify hearing impairment in their children. The signs of conductive hearing loss to look for in a child are that he may:-

  • have fluctuating hearing loss,
  • have speech language delay,
  • be easily distracted,
  • have a worried look,
  • have poor school performance,
  • have behaviour problems,
  • at times hear OK and sometimes does not hear,
  • Require repetition of what is being said etc.

In little older children, hearing difficulties can be confused with behaviour problems. Constant inattentiveness, below–average school performance and frequent colds and ear aches are also signs that there may be a hearing problem and thus these problems should not be ignored and community workers should help the parents to get their child's hearing tested by a qualified audiologist and/or the child should be seen by an ENT specialist.

Early Detection of a Hearing Loss is Important

The Government and/or voluntary oranizations and the community workers should aim at community awareness of early detection of a hearing loss in a child.

As the first 3 – 5 yrs. of life are crucial for developing good speech language skills, an undiagnosed hearing loss may lead to poor speech language difficulties and sometimes it may even result in behaviour problems. Thus, the earlier hearing loss is recognized, the better it will be for a child's overall development.

What is important here for the community workers is to keep in mind the rate at which children normally learn and develop speech language skills and what should parents expect at various early stages of a child's life.

The aim should be on amplification needs for a preschool child. If amplification seems likely, it is better that his/her hearing evaluation be done at the earliest and the community workers should provide all the possible support to parents.

Early Intervention is Important

If help is provided early in the life of a child with hearing loss, the effect of the loss may be reduced greatly.

The community workers should motivate and provide help to families of young children to get involved in the early intervention services which are made available at community level and also elsewhere so that the needs of the child are taken care of.

Hearing Loss can be permanent or Temporary

Both permanent and temporary type of hearing loss are caused by many different conditions.

The sooner a hearing problem is detected, the better it will be for a child's development.

The community workers should encourage the active participation of parents and their families in the identification management of the problems.

A Good Intra/Inter Personal Relationship is Essential at all levels

Community workers should make it a point to get the full cooperation of the parents. If this is maintained, the parents are motivated to participate in training/guidance/counselling provided to them and the outcome will be successful.

The extent to which the professionals and/or community workers demonstrate concern and regard for patients and parents and interest in their perception of their own problems is crucial in establishing an effective professional – patient, professional – parent relationship and community workers – patient community workers – parents relationship.

  • Individuals with disabilities/children with permanent type of hearing loss/chronic conditions are likely to require ongoing care and/or modifications of life style.
  • The educational needs should be taken care of as per the needs that arise at different Stages.

The gainful Occupation or Economic Rehabilitation should be the ultimate aim of a Rehabilitation process at community levels.

To whatever extent possible the community workers should take on the responsibility for planning, implementation monitoring a rehabilitation programme.

Community workers should see that various Govt. schemes for the welfare of hearing handicapped are made available to the PWD. An awareness should be created on the schemes available.

Community participation at all level is an essential part of a rehabilitation programme and the community workers/members should actively participate in :

  • Creating community awareness
  • Mobilizing local resources

Sharing the risks/benefits of a rehabilitation programme.

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