Sound Advice (formerly IDK) is six years old today (Aug. 28th, 2013). For a venture that began with €5k and a website name, that’s a real achievement in a recession, particularly when change-making is a priority.
Six years with no core, church or state funding
This self-financing is a big Sound Advice ‘win’. Another is Ireland’s eGovernment Education award (2010), when the judges said irishdeafkids.ie (our previous website) showed real cost-savings and efficiencies from cross-sector collaboration to inspire new leadership and innovation in online government services.
In another country, financing and mentoring would follow a new venture that picked up a few awards in its early years. But maybe that’s Ireland for you.
Sound Advice’s Audacious Dream
On Sound Advice’s sixth birthday, like Martin Luther King said fifty years ago today, the team is saying “I have a dream” for kids with hearing issues in Ireland.
This dream has three points:
- For all children with hearing issues to be identified at, or near birth
- For these children to have digital hearing-devices as early as viable
- For their families to get auditory-verbal language learning guidance
Part of this dream is achieved: that’s the regional maternity hospitals which offer newborn hearing tests before the mothers and babies leave for home.
Shortfalls In Follow-Up To Newborn Hearing Tests
However, with distinct gaps in the follow-up when a newborn hearing test is queried, IDK believes pediatric audiologists are needed in this area. Who is going to verify the babies’ hearing tests, and fit their first hearing-devices?
With the global shortage of qualified audiologists, the HSE will have a major challenge in retaining pediatric specialists, particularly when Ireland’s only audiology course is to close in 2016, with no new student intake in 2013.
Early-Years Hearing + Speech Investment Pays Off
Children with hearing issues who don’t get early intervention can cost states up to $1 million over a lifetime in education, lost wages and health issues (Massachusetts Hearing-Aid Coalition for Children – MassHACC, 2012).
With this caveat – and Ireland’s National Audiology Review (2011), the hearing-services roadmap is ready. Why then, has the BSc. degree course in Audiology at Athlone IT effectively stumbled, with a finish-date of 2016?
Children need to hear for learning to talk. Hearing and speech synergise, and government electives don’t ‘get’ this. Talking in financial terms may get their attention. Telepractice is also cost-effective for remote hearing-device mapping and speech-teaching (auditory-verbal therapy), so let’s see …
And where does hearing fit into education? It’s all related.
Here’s to a few more years – ideally with greater [social] capital …