audiology training and equipment
The Hear the World Foundation has been involved in providing training for audiologists in the Dominican Republic since 2010. This year, its focus has shifted toward funding technical equipment to help the island’s newly qualified audiological specialists achieve their ultimate aim of helping local people with hearing loss.
Place & Year
Project PartnersEARS Inc.
AwardsRichard Seewald Award
Easy and affordable access to audiological care – for the people of the Dominican Republic, almost half of whom live in slums, this is a dream that can now become a reality. Over the past few years, three hearing centers have been set up in the island’s capital Santo Domingo, which has a population of two million. These centers not only offer high-quality audiological treatment; they provide training too, with 15 Dominicans having been trained to become audiologists so far. The project’s dual strategy of training local specialists on site while also improving the situation for Dominican inhabitants with hearing loss has proved mutually beneficial. The development of hearing screening programs is also helping to identify new cases of hearing loss. However, the project can only continue to be effective in the long term if the newly trained audiologists have good technical tools at their disposal to help them apply their freshly acquired knowledge. This is why the Hear the World Foundation is now investing in top-quality audiological equipment.
20-year-old Dominican Génesis Troncoso Ortega is a student on the training program run by the Australian organization EARS Inc.: “My family does not have much money. I got to know someone who works for EARS by chance and she gave me the idea of studying audiology. To me, having the chance to practice this profession is a gift. When I see children managing to attend a mainstream school and fulfill their personal potential thanks to my help, it makes me unbelievably proud.” In the past, the islanders would not have known who to turn to if they had problems with their hearing – the Dominican Republic could have been described as an “audiological no man’s land.” Nevertheless, there is still a lot more to be done in the future; the island needs many more well-trained specialists like Génesis to guarantee nationwide access to audiological care. The Hear the World Foundation is also contributing funding for more technical equipment, so that as many Dominicans with hearing loss as possible can be tested and, if necessary, provided with hearing aids.
From a job in the pizzeria to audiological studies
Gustavo Linares, 25 years old, also opted for the demanding studies and is impressed: “I was actually a psychology student and helped out in a pizzeria during the holidays. Audiology didn’t interest me at all. But then I met Donna Carkeet from EARS and worked with her on a project in Santiago. Seeing how much can be changed in our country completely changed my opinion. Just one week later I gathered together all my papers and transferred to audiological studies. At the very beginning of my training I was assisting Donna when an 18-month old child came into our clinic. I was allowed to make my first diagnosis with the girl, so to speak. I have now been working with this girl for two years and it is unbelievable how much progress the little one is making. It’s wonderful to have such a profession!”
The Hear the World Foundation's prize is named after Professor Dr. Richard Seewald, who is well known for his tireless efforts in pediatric audiology over many decades. He spearheaded the development of an internationally recognized DSL method for fitting hearing systems to children. Prior to his retirement, Seewald held the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Hearing at that country's National Centre for Audiology, which he co-founded. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Western Ontario.