Testing: Audiology student Jarred Andreas conducts a hearing screening on a child at Phumlani Educare Centre in Masiphumelele.
Second-year audiology students from UCT's Division of Communication Sciences & Disorders in the Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences recently conducted hearing screening at Phumlani Educare Centre in Masiphumelele, and immediately made a significant difference.
Nine of the 37 children they screened needed further referrals, six of them for a full hearing assessment (one child had a cotton swab lodged in her ear canal) and three for wax removal.
Dr Lebogang Ramma, head of the division, said the initiative began in 2010 targeting students who needed extra clinic hours. But this has changed. For the past two years students have been volunteering to get involved in this hearing screening initiative because they want to serve the community and gain some experience.
The initiative is in line with UCT's commitment to social responsiveness.
Ramma noted that their programme provides the only hearing screening that the children in that pre-school ever get before starting school.
"It's important to know the child's hearing status at this level so that if there are any concerns, measures can be put in place before the child starts grade one."
What impressed Ramma even more was that the five participants, Jarred Andreas, Muneebah Benjamin, Charnae Pieterse, Marcee Reid and Ulfah Salie, managed to communicate with the children in isiXhosa, thanks to the isiXhosa course they take as part of their training.
Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences are required to learn isiXhosa or Afrikaans as an additional language to improve their communication with patients, especially those who speak mostly isiXhosa and Afrikaans.
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