Breaking the silence – with a cochlear implant
For children with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk, they must have access to early identification of hearing loss, appropriate hearing technology, locally-based professional expertise and parent involvement. While hearing aids are usually sufficient for spoken language development in children with mild to moderate hearing loss, children with profound hearing loss need cochlear implant technology to be able to hear the sounds of speech required to develop spoken language.
Place & Year
Project PartnersGlobal Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss (GFCHL)
The problem: In Vietnam, as in many low and middle-income countries, there is no insurance coverage or state subsidization for cochlear implants. The cochlear implant, the associated surgery, the ongoing therapy and audiological services, and lifetime product maintenance costs are difficult to impossible for many families in Vietnam to afford. Therefore, the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss (GFCHL) and the Hear the World Foundation have entered into a unique collaboration that will enable 10 Vietnamese children in need with significant hearing loss to hear and speak.
It is a moving moment when three-year-old Lam hears his parents’ voices clearly for the first time at a children’s hospital in Hanoi. The thin boy beams from ear to ear. Now, he can finally hear! Lam’s parents have long been craving this day. Five weeks earlier, their son was given an implant in an operation. It is now combined with a speech processor. Experts from the Hear the World Foundation, a Sonova corporate foundation, together with the local team, have meticulously prepared for this special moment and carefully supervise the activation.
Lam is one of ten children with profound hearing loss, for whom the Hear the World Foundation is donating the latest cochlear implant, the costs of the surgery, and long-term audiological follow-up care, through the HearVietnam program. Lam was born premature, with hearing loss so severe that hearing aids would not suffice. Cochlear implant technology was his only hope. But Lam’s family could not afford to cover the costs. All the happier they were when they learned from Lam's speech therapist about the program provided by the Hear the World Foundation and the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss.
Sustained engagement for long-term success
After the CI has been activated, Lam can now hear, but a time of intensive training begins for his family. While children with normal hearing start babbling away quite naturally, Lam first has to learn to distinguish between sounds and must practice talking and listening. He is being given one year of auditory-verbal therapy by Vietnamese professionals, who have been trained by the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss. Therapists help the families to support their children’s listening and spoken language development. The goal: Lam is to learn to speak so well that he can attend a regular school later and develop normally for his age. For successful learning, parents are also important: they are given training on how to handle CIs, plus tips about playful ways in which they can help their children practice to listen and talk.
Vietnamese audiologists from Sonova Vietnam provide ongoing audiological services at no charge to the families. Thus, they receive everything they need so that their children are able to learn to listen and to talk in the best possible way.