Vellore is all set to house an Early Diagnostic Centre for Hearing Impaired (EDCHI), under the aegis of the Department of Differently-abled Welfare, to prevent future disability among children.
A GO in this regard was issued recently and a sum of Rs 19.85 lakh sanctioned. Vellore is one of the 10 districts in the State selected to house a centre.
District differently-abled welfare officer Charles Prabhakaran said the centre would have two treated rooms, designed as per the plan provided by Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped in Mumbai. The centre would also have an otoscope with light, portable scanner to test otoacoustic emission, diagnostic audiometer, diagnostic audiometer with free field audiometer/peepshow audiometer with Laptop, and other necessary equipment. The centre would diagnose hearing disabilities in children up to the age of 3 years, so that early treatment could provided, preventing future disability, he pointed out.
Charles said studies had indicated that five out of every 1,000 children in the State were found to be suffering from hearing impairment and speech disability. The impairment if not detected in the first three years, the period crucial for the development of the child’s speech, could lead to permanent disability.
The centre has already appointed a trained technician who would examine ear, nose, throat, conduct pure tone audiometry test, auditory brainstem response test, otoacoustic emission test, speech and language development issues, fix hearing aids, and provide primary training for the hearing impaired. While the centre would be able to conduct basic diagnostic and training for affected children, for advanced training they would be referred to the Centre for Hearing Impaired for children at the WORTH Trust in Katpadi, being maintained by the DDAWO.
While the department is already assisting 3,472 such children, the new facility is expected to diagnose even newborns for any abnormality, Charles noted. Therefore, parents need not wait for as long as three years to know if their children would have hearing disability. A mobile van with physio-therapy and orthotic facilities would also be available for the transportation of children besides providing therapeutic care at their door step, he noted.