World Hearing Day: ‘Our attitude can change the future of 63 million hearing-impaired people’

Over 360 million people in the world suffer from disabling hearing loss and the impairment among children is increasing at around 60%. Simply put, 5.3% of the world population has disabling hearing loss of which 32 million are children, according to WHO estimates. Devangi Dalal, an audiologist and speech therapist has dedicated herself to improve the quality of life of hearing impaired children of India for the last two and a half decades. And also provides free hearing services that is new digital hearing aids, enabling them to speak and attend normal schools

Audiologist & Speech Therapist Devangi Dalal with kids at the JOSH Foundation's inter-school dance competition for the hearing impaired

  • In India, 63 million people suffer from significant auditory loss and that includes around 50 lakhs children. Surveys have estimated hearing loss to be the third leading cause of chronic disability, following arthritis and hypertension. 
  • World Hearing Day is held on March 3, to raise awareness on how to prevent hearing loss and to emphasise on hearing care the world over. This year, with the theme ‘Hear the future’, World Hearing Day draws attention to the anticipated increase of people with hearing loss in the coming decades and preventive strategies to stem the rise and ensure rehabilitation services and communication tools are in place. 

In most cases, children who struggle to hear can be helped with the correct hearing aid. Hearing disability can be a nowned speech impediment resulting in the child being a socially isolated underachiever, something that can be prevented/controlled.

Through Juvenile Organisation of Speech and Hearing  (JOSH) we organise programmes to empower the children, be it entertainment programmes were they perform to music, or self-development or counselling sessions. We also personally fit children with hearing devices free of cost enabling them to lead normal lives. So far, over 750 children have benefited but there is a need to bring about a movement that will be a road map to independence for children with hearing impairment.”

Devangi Dalal, audiologist and speech therapist
Devangi Dalal, audiologist and speech therapist

There is a need to create awareness in society about early detection of hearing disability and usage of proper hearing aids as hearing impaired children can then be integrated into normal schools.Proper neo-natal screening equipment need to be in place.

We also need to work on educational and job opportunities of the hearing impaired. It is then that the children will speak and not use gestural language for communication as if only they could hear with proper diagnosis, proper digital hearing and proper rehabilitation, they are as normal as any of their compatriots. Every successful child fitted with the right hearing devices is a step in that direction.