A new online program “Talk Together Connect” aimed at helping hearing impaired children in regional areas learn to listen and speak was officially launched in Orange, thanks to a $106,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.
‘We’ve always supported children in regional areas,’ says Dr Jim Hungerford, ‘but this new program allows families to connect in real time, participate in the foundations of listening and spoken language through online learning modules at their convenience as well as meet other families from regional areas who are in the same situation as them.’
Foundation Executive Officer, Graham Batten, added, ‘The Shepherd Centre has an extraordinary track record when it comes to giving deaf children access to sound and speech, with over 90 per cent of the centre’s graduates heading to mainstream schools with outstanding communication skills.
‘I’m exceptionally proud that a Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation grant could help enable such a valuable and innovative project to engage in improve the outcomes of regional kids with hearing loss,’ Mr Batten said.
‘Families can upload videos of their child’s progress in their own time and our therapists can respond accordingly with feedback to continue the essential early intervention progress,’ said Dr Hungerford. ‘We still see our children face-to-face but Talk Together Connect allows us to support them so much more.’
Deafness is one of the most common disabilities diagnosed at birth, affecting one in 1,000 Australian babies born each year.
‘In the long term, we want Luka to attend a mainstream school just like his big sister. I don’t want his hearing loss to stop him achieving anything in his life,’ says Emma. ‘Thanks to the program, Luka’s speech and language is coming along well and is now on par with other children his age who do not have any type of hearing loss.’
It costs almost $20,000 per year to provide the essential early intervention therapy needed to help just one deaf child learn to listen and speak, and to reach their full potential.
As a charity organisation, The Shepherd Centre relies heavily on public donations to fund over half of this cost. To help The Shepherd Centre continue its life-changing programs for children and young people with hearing loss, visit www.shepherdcentre.org.au or call 1800 020 030.