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Social Development Ministry Partners With DRETCHI/ TTAHI To Bring Relief To Hearing Impaired

Social Development Ministry Partners With DRETCHI/ TTAHI To Bring Relief To Hearing Impaired
A hearing aid recipient reacts after being fitted for hearing aids by volunteers of Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF).

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (GISL) -- The distribution of more than 1000 free hearing aids to persons who are hearing impaired, took place at Lions Civic Centre Port of Spain from Wednesday 15 March through Friday 17 March, 2017.

Persons came from across Trinidad and Tobago, excited to receive the gift of hearing and were not disappointed. The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services was pleased to join DRETCHI and its delivery arm, the Trinidad and Tobago Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI), to bring relief to persons with hearing loss.

DRETCHI receives funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services which is channelled into the programmes of TTAHI, the only organization that provides hearing health care facilities at minimum or no cost to the population of Trinidad and Tobago. Both agencies collaborated with Starkey Hearing Foundation to donate the hearing aids. The Ministry was represented by Deputy Permanent Secretary, Dennis Williams, Coordinator Non-Governmental Unit, Anne- Marie Quammie Alleyne and the Director Disability Affairs Unit (Ag.) Catherine Ferreira, who all received demonstrations on how hearing aids are fitted by founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, William F. Austin. Mr Austin, has been for more than 50 years, partnering with organizations to provide the gift of hearing to people in need. Also in attendance, were Ms Patricia Charles, President of TTAHI and Qushiba La Fleur, Executive Officer, DRETCHI.

The distribution saw a number of volunteers assisting persons to be fitted however, the highlight of the event was volunteer celebrity National Football League (NFL) Player Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks.  Coleman, who has been hearing impaired since the age of two years old stated that he was quite pleased to be a part of the distribution exercise.

Records show that prevention, identification and management of hearing loss continues to be of great importance, despite the lack of resources. Additionally rehabilitation services for the hearing impaired, such as the supply of hearing aids falls below the demand. Partnerships are therefore imperative particularly as it impacts on low income populations.

The community-based hearing health care program of Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF) utilizes a three-phase continuous action model to partner with local teams to identify potential candidates (Phase 1) and fit them with customized hearing aids (Phase 2), while also giving access to follow up care (Phase 3). Phase four gives all recipients the opportunity to mainstream into the hearing world. SHF uses WFA (Wide Frequency Audibility) and William F. Austin fitting methods. With this model, they train local community-based coordinators to provide services to people in need. Their hearing health care coordinators are overseen by Starkey Hearing Foundation staff, in-country program advisors and clinicians to execute program activities in their respective regions.

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services is proud to partner and support these initiatives which are in keeping with its mandate to help…, empower…, transform lives.