Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quota Club offers youths free hearing aids

Source Link - Quota Club offers youths free hearing aids

In the United States, one in every 10 people -- that's about 31 million Americans -- has hearing loss. The majority of people have their disability treated with hearing aids.

According to the state Department of Labor and Economic Growth, about 1.4 million, or 14%, of Michigan residents are deaf or hard of hearing.

Once again, Quota International of Port Huron have teamed with Siemens Hearing Instruments for Sound Beginnings Hearing Aids for Children in Need -- a program to provide free hearing aids for children who have been diagnosed with hearing loss. Families with children up to 18 years old who live in St. Clair County and are dealing with hearing loss are encouraged to apply for the program.

Quota International will cover the costs and logistics of all necessary testing, appointments, ear molds and related items. The hearing aid fitting typically consists of six stages: assessment, treatment, planning, selection, verification, orientation and validation.

Nan Asher, executive director of the Michigan Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which is a United Way partner agency, said about 40% of children with hearing loss, even if it is mild, have a secondary disability. That may be blindness, cerebral palsy, autism or a variety of other developmental disabilities. Hearing loss is a primary disability because of communication and learning challenges.

Even mild hearing loss can interfere significantly with the reception of spoken language and education. Research indicates children with unilateral hearing loss (in one ear) are 10 times as likely to be held back at least one grade level compared with children with normal hearing. Children with mild hearing loss miss 25% to 50% of speech in the classroom and may be labeled inappropriately as having a behavior problem.

With appropriate early intervention, children with hearing loss can be mainstreamed in regular elementary and secondary education classrooms.

Recent research has concluded children born with a hearing loss who are identified and given appropriate intervention before they are 6 months old demonstrate significantly better speech and reading comprehension than children identified after 6 months old.

Every day in the United States, about one in 1,000 babies is born profoundly deaf with another three out of 1,000 born with partial hearing loss, making hearing loss the No. 1 birth defect in America.

Amplification is crucial to the success of proper hearing. The earlier the detection, the better.

Asher added Medicare does not provide hearing aids and Medicaid only covers the cost to a certain extent. Hearing aids are specifically excluded from being classified as "durable medical equipment," and Asher said if they were reclassified then all insurances and Medicare would be required to provide hearing aids as a benefit.

To take advantage of the Sound Beginnings program, applications must be submitted by Aug. 31. For more information, contact St. Clair County District Judge Cynthia S. Platzer at (810) 985-2083 or a Quota Club of Port Huron member.