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The Hearing and Speech Project

Learning speech through play at our early intervention centre

High Quality Education

Rangammal School provides high quality education for children with hearing loss. Many of the children have not able to hear from birth which makes it difficult to develop clear speech.  When hearing loss is severe or profound children are unable to understand speech sounds by listening. Recently developed cochlear implants are changing this so that many children are now able to hear speech sounds. Costs are prohibitive, however, and the latest implants are not currently affordable for our project. However, the children at Rangammal School are provided with good quality, fitted digital hearing aids. These are worn behind the ear and are programmed to each ear in order to compensate, as far as possible, for the loss of hearing at each frequency.  
Staff have been trained in audiology support.  Teachers encourage the children to lip read and respond. These efforts are much enhanced by the work of a qualified speech therapist.
Staff are very effective in communicating easily with our children.  Every teacher in the school has completed formal training in strategies for teaching hearing impaired children.

Adjusting a hearing aid at the early intervention centre
Six teachers have been trained in the basics of audiology: testing, tuning, minor repairs and taking impressions prior to making the required ear moulds. These teachers follow a rota to enable regular repeat testing. A clinic is held daily so the children can report issues and resolve problems speedily.
Volunteers from Hear the World Foundation (HTWF) work with teachers to enhance skills, both by visits and online.

The Results

The results are impressive, especially where all these interventions are made at an early age. There have been some remarkable improvements in pupils’ speech, skills, academic results and confidence. These are now leading to high levels of participation in further education and employment.

Next Steps

Future development goals include recruiting additional specialised vocalisation support and interventions at earlier ages. In the West it is normal to test hearing at birth and begin therapy at a very early age which then has better outcomes. The children in Rangammal School start at the age of five years, which is not optimal. Two groups of three to four year olds are now supported on a non-residential basis. We are hoping to extend full audiology services to these children.


We are especially grateful for generous support received for this project from the Hear the World Foundation (HTWF). Founded in 2006 by Sonova Group, this non-profit Swiss foundation supports projects around the world which enable children with hearing loss to develop appropriate to their age by providing access to audiological care. HTWF provides funding, hearing technology and on-site expertise to train local professionals. Sonova Group employees work on a voluntary basis for the foundation.
Headingley Rotary in Leeds generously funded 40 hearing aids and individuals paid for some further sets. HTWF stepped in to fund the remainder. For the last six years HTWF have met all the school’s needs, including the salary of a speech therapist, periodic replacements of hearing aids, provision for new starters and the operation of a repair service. Specialised equipment is used to test the children’s hearing, and to programme the devices, in a sound proofed room. This provision was generously funded by the family of Denis Macaulay, the first Treasurer of the Sylvia Wright Trust.  The latest grant from HTWF has supplied hearing aids for the preschool children for the next two years.
Setting all of this up was quite a task. We owe a lot to Alice Alkins who spent three months at Rangammal School following her graduation in audiology from Leeds University and to Dianne Ward who has supervised the whole project.
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