It is estimated that hearing loss among Inuit children is as high as 30%, compared to the 2.63% of children in the general population, according to a study published by Collections Canada (2006).
This month’s feature takes a close look at the Northern Hearing Initiative, led by Montreal-based World Wide Hearing Foundation International. This unique initiative is modeled on work conducted in Jordan, Guatemala and Vietnam. An example of “reverse innovation,” this is a new approach that’s being tried out in Canada for the first time to provide screening for hearing loss and to fit low-cost hearing aids in Canada’s North, where there are very few audiologists.
When seven-year-old Mahmoud in Jordan was fitted with hearing aids for the first time, he started to giggle. “He could hear and this was really exciting,” says Audra Renyi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the World Wide Hearing Foundation (WWH), the Canadian non-profit that provides accessible services for the hearing impaired in the developing world. WWH is gearing up to expand its community-led work into Canada.
“It’s about connecting children to their worlds and giving them the chance of a better life, better opportunities, education-wise but also eventually work-wise,” says Renyi.