The school which was founded in 1955 and is the oldest and largest institute which provides education in the Tamil language for hearing and visually impaired children was all but destroyed during the war.
Understanding its significance as virtually the sole resource for the specialist care and education of its pupils, HCC along with other charitable organisations within and outside Sri Lanka became involved with a project in 2005 taken on by Oru Paanai (OP) [a voluntary humanitarian organisation established to alleviate hunger in school children in Jaffna Peninsula] and to reestablish the school and to improve its facilities. Some of the many issues faced were the lack of trained staff to teach Hearing Impaired Children, lack of facilities and staff to carry out hearing assessments for many children, the non-availability of hearing aids for many children.
With the help of funding and support from charitable bodies including HCC, significant in-roads have been made at the school to improve the educational opportunities and the facilities for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children.
“In its political appeal and in its humanitarian justification, everything practical must be done to mitigate hearing impairment in this generation…”Lady Jean Wilson, Founder & Chairperson HCC
Sri Lankan doctors working in the field of Otolarygology and Audiology in the UK – including HCC Trustees – have made several visits to Kaithady over the past five years, along with other Volunteer professionals including Paediatricians, Audiology Physicians, General Physicians and Specialist Teachers of the Deaf and have successfully helped to implement a programme of change and improvement.
By 2012, many of the initial and most urgent project aims had been met – and they continue to be supported by the project:
- Most of the deaf children at the school have been assessed in order to determine their needs;
- Children and staff have received a full medical, ENT and audiological assessments;
- Many children and staff members have been fitted with digital hearing aids and solar powered batteries and chargers made available to all;
- Three staff members have been trained to carry out hearing tests, take impressions for hearing aid moulds and to programme the hearing aids.
- Refurbishment of a classroom as a temporary Audiology facility for testing and fitting of hearing aids;
- Providing children with appropriate amplification so that they can access all of the educational facilities provided by the school;
- To maintain their amplification needs throughout their educational years at the school;
- Educating the children and the staff at the school about the care of hearing aids, including accessories;
- To facilitate vocational training for future careers.
Ultimately, the longer term aim for the Nuffield School for the Deaf & Blind is not only to expand on the significant improvements made in the facilities, care and education of the pupils locally, but to establish the school as a Centre of Excellence for the entire region, extending audiology services to other schools and providing training and support for the staff of other deaf schools across Sri Lanka – thus becoming a keystone in the country’s long term National Plan for the Prevention of Hearing Impairment and Deafness and a blueprint for the value of an holistic approach to clinical screening.
In the gallery below there are photos showing the school as it is now and as it was at the time of the conflict. Various NGOs and INGOs including HCC, helped to restore it to its present state.
The Hearing Conservation Council and Oru Paanai aim to build a state of the art Audiology Centre and to train staff in order to make the unit a success for the people of the province.