45 chil­dren re­ceive hear­ing aids at Man­dalay School for the Deaf

The Myanmar Times - - News - KHIN SU WAI khin­suwai@mm­times.com

INI­TIALLY a one-to-one class run out of the home of a Bri­tish ex­pat, the Man­dalay School for the Deaf is now pro­vid­ing stu­dents with hear­ing aids and in­te­grat­ing them into hear­ing­mixed classes.

Since his wife’s pass­ing in 2013, David Blake­way-Smith has made it his mis­sion to en­sure that the deaf chil­dren of Man­dalay Re­gion have ad­e­quate and equal access to ed­u­ca­tion. Cur­rently, the school has more than 200 chil­dren en­rolled.

Since 2014, the Man­dalay School for the Deaf has been track­ing chil­dren’s hear­ing abil­ity to see whether they are el­i­gi­ble to use hear­ing aids. If their hear­ing num­ber falls be­tween 30 and 90 deci­bels, chil­dren are given hear­ing aids and put in speech ther­apy classes.

Forty-five chil­dren – 30 this year and 15 last year – were screened and passed an au­diome­ter test, mak­ing them el­i­gi­ble to use hear­ing aids in the class­room.

The chil­dren placed in daily speech ther­apy classes are taught to speak from scratch, start­ing from ev­ery in­fant’s first words, phay phay (fa­ther) and may may (mother), and on­wards.

“If they are taught ev­ery day, then they can speak,” deputy head­mistress Daw Oh­n­mar Oo told The Myan­mar Times on Novem­ber 3. “Sign lan­guage is still needed to teach the deaf chil­dren, even when they’re us­ing hear­ing aids.”

The school is cur­rently run by Mr Blake­way-Smith along with the help of seven English aids, three spe­cially trained lo­cal teach­ers from a deaf school, and a team of Man­dalay doc­tors spe­cial­is­ing in eye, ear, nose and neck health.

“This year, I met with so­cial min­is­ters and asked for help by writ­ing a let­ter to the English govern­ment,” said Mr Blake­way-Smith, who was touched by a re­cent trip to Myan­mar wherein he wit­nessed a young child hear­ing for the first time through the help of a hear­ing aid. The Bri­tish govern­ment granted him a loan in Myan­mar from 2011 to 2016. Most of the funds go to the Save the Chil­dren and Ox­fam char­i­ties.

“I want to do all that I can for the chil­dren,” he said.

Photo: Khin Su Wai

A deaf child re­ceives a hear­ing aid in Man­dalay Re­gion.

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