The Sabrina Love Foundation has always been about supporting any child with disabilities in our local community, including a handful of children who are deaf or have profound hearing loss.
We have helped these children, teens and families financially so that they can attend and board a Special School for the Deaf near Cape Town.
So how did H.I.P happen?
Like all visionary projects that are born, this one just fell into our laps. We noticed an increase in the referral of younger children with suspected hearing loss to our service, we employed a highly skilled Consultant Speech and Language Therapist who is fluent in Sign Language, we became more aware of how long children are waiting for assessment and hearing aids in the government health care service and how many children are going undetected and untreated in mainstream schools in our area.
It has been of particular concern to us that the children who come back from Special Schools having learnt to sign find it incredibly challenging and sometimes impossible to communicate with their families or local communities. This is a sad example of how the education system is failing this group of children. By sending them away, they learn but when they return, they are more isolated than ever. Their families don’t know Sign Language.
What cemented the idea for H.I.P was when Beauty and Charmilyn, our 2 new facilitators, appeared on our doorstep unemployed and enthusiastic to be part of the Sabrina Love Family and to service the children they knew so much about!
Beauty attended a Special School for the Deaf and is one of our grown-up Sabrina Love Young Adults – how special – full circle back to Sabrina Love! Beauty is profoundly deaf and Charmilyn is partially deaf but can lip read. Both are fully literate and communicate well with written word. We decided to dive right in and welcomed these lovely young ladies to our team. And so, H.I.P became a reality that is proving to be challenging but wonderfully rewarding. Inclusion of the Deaf in schools, the community and the workplace!
Some important context
- 5% of school children are deaf or have a partial hearing loss
- Many never achieve full literacy and the school drop out rate is high
- Many deaf children and their families never learn to sign or communicate with each other
- Not one of the 43 South African Special Schools for the Deaf is close by, meaning that children have to board from as young as 3 years of age
What we do know
- Children who are deaf follow much the same steps to learn language as those who can hear
- The first few years are crucial for acquiring the basic foundations for learning language
- The emotional bonds we develop with our families is dependent on language and communication
- The earlier hearing loss is identified, the earlier it is treated and the earlier written and Sign Language is introduced and integrated into the family, the better the child’s chance of inclusion in all areas of life
Our H.I.P programme aims to break down barriers, promote inclusion and most importantly keep these children with their parents in their homes, communities and schools for as long as we can!
What we have started doing
- Early identification and assessment of young children referred to our service with suspected hearing loss and children who are just not talking when they should be
- Specialised therapeutic intervention involving the child and the carer
- The introduction of a SLF signing home programme so that the child and carers can learn sign together
- Planting facilitators who can sign and understand deafness with children in creches and schools
- Expediting the long arduous process of getting the hearing aids many of these kids need
- Providing the families of Deaf children with social support and training to build on the communication bonds with their children
- Promoting inclusion of these young children in mainstream school – many are too young to send away and have no cognitive difficulties so cope well in mainstream education with assistance/ facilitation
Our PRIMARY GOALS:
- Teach these kids to sign and communicate
- Keep them at home with their moms and dads
- By-pass the backlog of hearing tests and hearing aid fittings in the national health service
- Create an inclusive environment for life
To GROW this programme we need to be able to:
- Employ facilitators, who can sign, to be with kids at school
- Give kids and families the technology they need to follow our home programmes sent on our unique SLF App – includes tablets/smart phones and data
- Provide state of the art assessment and screening with a Kuduwave Pro-TMP audiometer
- Engage the expertise of a specialist Speech and Language Therapist and Audiologist competent in hearing assessment, treatment, and fitting of hearing aids.
- Use our Deaf facilitator to create video home programme content that is unique, family friendly and goal-directed towards quick language acquisition
We would appreciate your assistance, and donations towards our H.I.P programme would mean that it can SOAR.
Your donations will make this DREAM possible.