The harder it is to hear, the harder it is to learn!
The goal of the Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth (BHENY) is to help children and youth with hearing loss, beginning in 13 under serviced communities in the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut.
In November 2018, Bheny team members assisted with the training and implementation in Cape Dorset – the final of the 13 communities implemented. While we still need to evaluate how effective our training model has been, our goals have been reached, with over 230 teachers and student support assistants trained. All Elementary schools across the Qikiqtanit region now have soundfield amplification systems in their classrooms. Children are hearing better in those classrooms!
Many Nunavummiut teachers, student support assistants, student support teachers as well as administrators in the Qikiqtani School Operations contributed greatly to the success of Bheny. We thank you and the members of the commmunities we visited for allowing us to be in your communities, your schools and your lives. It has been both a privilege and an honour to do the work that we have done. We have been humbled by the beauty of the people and the landscape of the Canadian Arctic. It is our hope that this work has allowed a shared pathway to reconciliation and that together we can continue on this pathway and continue to address the many hearing needs of Nunavummiat.
(Video credit: Sira Chayer/ArcticNet )
Why is hearing loss a problem?
There is no newborn hearing screening program to identify babies with hearing loss, and very few formal screening programs for preschool or school age children, so hearing loss can be diagnosed very late
There is an extremely high prevalence of hearing loss in Inuit children and youth due to complications from ear infections. Elsewhere in Canada, permanent hearing loss resulting from complications of ear infections is rare, but it is extremely common in Arctic regions
Access to health care, particularly to otolaryngologists and audiologists, is difficult; many children receive services (including hearing aid fitting) in other provinces and followup is inconsistent
There is only one permanent full time audiologist in all of Nunavut to addresss the hearing needs of children and youth
There are no teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing, and little support for classroom teachers to learn about hearing loss
Hearing loss leads to difficulty learning both English and Inuktitut. Preserving the language of Inuktitut requires being able to hear well
Hearing loss leads to difficulties learning to read and write, as well as social difficulties, bullying, poor academic outcomes, and low high school graduation rates
Children sometimes stay home from school for days or weeks at a time, because they cannot hear well enough to learn
Bheny aims to address hearing loss at home, at school and in the community by focusing on:
Enhancing audiology services We hope to increase access to audiology services, such as by implementing remote hearing aid programming, enhance collaboration with southern audiology services (where many children are currently seen). and provide access to loaner hearing aids for children to use when their own hearing aids need to be sent for repair
Improving hearing at school with personal FM systems, sound field systems in schools and professional development and support for teachers. This includes developing a teacher Virtual Resource Centre to provide technical support for hearing technology
Improving learning at school by using the Virtual Resource Centre for professional development for classroom teachers and Student Support Teachers through webinars, virtual resources, and professional learning communities
Developing community partnerships to help everyone learn more about hearing loss, and how to help individuals with hearing loss in the community.