Lunchtime Seminar, 9 November 2012, WHO-HQ Geneva
On Friday, November 9th, 2012, Prevention of Blindness and Deafness and Disability and Rehabilitation hosted the lunch time seminar; living with deafness and hearing loss in middle and low income countries: options and challenges.
Guest Speakers included: Mr. Colin Allen and Ms. Sally Harvest
Chaired by: Dr Nicholas Banatvala, Senior Advisor to ADG/NMH
360 million people across the world live with disabling hearing loss. Broadly, persons living with hearing loss can be divided into those who are deaf and others who are hard of hearing. Deaf persons mostly suffer with severe or profound hearing loss. Deaf people often use sign language as a means of communication alongwith lip reading. Sign languages vary across the world, with each country having its own sign languages.
Hard of hearing refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to profound, who mostly communicate through spoken language. They often benefit from use of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Some of the hearing loss is due to ear diseases such as otitis media, which can be treated.
Early identification of hearing loss and intervention are important to ensure that all persons with hearing loss can reach their full potential within the society, through inclusion and full access to learning and living environments.
Mr Colin Allen was raised in a deaf family in Sydney and graduated with a Diploma in Community Organisations from the University of Technology, Sydney. Mr Allen was elected the President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in July 2011. Prior to this Mr Allen served as a WFD board member from 2003. He was also President of the Australian Association of the Deaf (now Deaf Australia) for nine years. As the president Mr Allen sits in the board of International Disability Alliance. Mr Allen has worked as Director of Services with the Deaf Society of NSW since October 2009 and is currently responsible for the delivery of services across five departments (Community Services, Adult Education, Employment, Interpreting and Advocacy & Community Development).
Mr Allen has an extensive experience in development work. He has worked as project co-ordinator for WFD’s Global Pre-Planning Project on the Human Rights of Deaf People conducting regional survey work about Deaf people in Eastern Europe, Middle Asia, Asia and the Pacific, South America, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern and Southern Africa, Western and Central Africa and Arabian States. In addition he has also worked with the Finnish Association of the Deaf’s development projects in Albania, Cambodia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey.
Ms Sally Harvest is a member of CBM’s Advisory working group on ear and hearing care. Ms Harvest was born with normal hearing but lost her hearing after struggling with ear infections for many years. She also has inherited sensory-neural hearing loss. She wore bi-lateral hearing aids for 30 years and now benefits from the use of a hearing aid and a cochlear implant. Ms Harvest has worked closely with WHO in developing and field testing WHO training manuals for primary ear and hearing care. Today, she is a Hearing and Communication therapist and provides support to users of hearing aids and cochlear implants and their families.