Hear and Say is a Queensland wide charity that enables families to achieve optimal outcomes for their children with hearing loss by teaching them to listen and speak. This is achieved using a world leading service delivery model, which combines modern hearing technology such as the cochlear implant with specialised Listening and Spoken Language Therapy.
Children with hearing impairments living in remote or regional areas struggle to access necessary services, with their families often having to travel long distances to receive the help that they need. To alleviate this issue, Hear and Say created the Telepractice Program in 1998, which enables children with hearing impairments from anywhere across Queensland to undertake Listening and Spoken Language Therapy via PC-based videoconferencing.
The Telepractice Program is now being expanded by adding Family Training Sessions. These involve multiple families having online sessions together with Hear and Say staff (Listening and Spoken Language Specialists, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers), who will guide them through the issues that can arise for children with hearing impairments.
Currently, Hear and Say is creating the final plans for the content that will be included in the sessions. This material will deliver Listening and Spoken Language Therapy in a way that is engaging for everyone involved, and encourages families to share their learnings with one another. In addition to this, Hear and Say are also ensuring that the appropriate technology is in place to facilitate the sessions.
Hear and Say recently held a trial session involving two children and their parents. Activities undertaken included introductions from the children, a book reading of “Liam the Superhero” (a story about a child with a cochlear implant) and subsequent discussion around hearing technology, and the children making a puppet of themselves to discuss differences in people. The session was successful in stimulating interaction between the children, and getting the families involved in discussions about hearing and the differences in people.
Hear and Say received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the parents involved, and another trial session will be held soon.
Once fully implemented, these Family Training Sessions will give Telepractice families a level of Listening and Spoken Language Therapy that is equal to Hear and Say’s face-to-face service delivery. The outcomes of this is that participating families will:
- See their children’s listening and spoken language develop at a rate that is equal with children the same age with standard-level hearing.
- Have access to a support network of other families in a similar situation to themselves.
- Have the opportunity to learn from both Hear and Say staff and other families in a positive environment.
The Family Training Sessions represent the next advancement in Hear and Say’s Telepractice Program, and will enable Hear and Say to help families in remote and regional areas in more ways than ever before. The Hear and Say Centre looks forward to empowering families across Queensland with the information and skills needed to assist their children with hearing loss, so that these children can attend mainstream schooling, have wider career choices and become involved members of their communities.