A children’s charity that provides specialised support so that deaf children can listen and speak is welcoming Minister of Health Tony Ryall’s announcement about more funding for cochlear implants.
The Hearing House in Auckland has helped hundreds of deaf children with cochlear implants learn to listen and speak just like their hearing friends since it opened in 1998. Today’s announcement – which means the Government will pay for a child to have both ears implanted rather than just one being publicly funded – will give these children a better future.
The Hearing House’s chief executive Scott Johnston says he is thrilled with the Minister’s announcement: “Until now parents have had to fund a second ear for their deaf child at a cost of $45,000-$50,000 – today’s announcement means parents will now be able to focus on working to help their deaf child with the therapy that is needed in order for their child to develop clear spoken language.”
Johnston says new international research shows that deaf children who have bilateral implants – that is, implants in both ears – achieve much better in terms of language development and cognition than children who have just one ear implanted. The Hearing House has been involved in research conducted by Professor Julia Sarant at University of Melbourne which has proven that two ears are better than one.
Among those to hear the news were Michele and Ranilo Balingit, of Auckland, who have been unable to afford a second implant for their five-year-old daughter Rhianna. “It is just like winning Lotto,” a tearful Michele Balingit said. Rhianna is one of 25 children currently helped by The Hearing House who fits the criteria to receive a publicly funded second implant.
In addition to welcoming the funding for two cochlear implants for children aged under six, Mr Johnston says the Government’s decision to provide funding for repairs and follow-up services for those who have previously privately funded a second implant for their deaf child is great news and will relieve financial pressures on those families.