Hearing exhibit opens at The Mall

National 3 minutes, 21 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Hearing Awareness Exhibition & Better Hearing, Better Living Charity Bazaar 2016 was launched yesterday at the atrium of the Mall, Gadong.

Themed ‘Garden Tea Party’, the five-day event which will end on Sunday, November 6 is organised to raise funds to provide and maintain aids for hearing students under the purview of the Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education (MoE).

The funds will also be used to provide financial support in the training of speech therapists or special needs educators for hearing-impaired children. Speaking to The Brunei Times, the General Manager of Hear Better Services Company and Project Manager of the ‘Better Hearing, Better Living’ Charity Project, Hjh Noorafzah Dato Paduka Hj Awang Ahmad said this is the fourth year the company has organised the event.

“We knew hearing aids are very expensive where globally a lot of children don’t get hearing aids early enough because of the price so we thought this was something that was feasible to do in our small community.

“Hearing impaired children are no different than any other child, they have talents and dreams but face major challenges, especially the struggle of expression.”

This year, apart from the charity bazaar, the company has added a Hearing Awareness Exhibition to create greater interaction with more art, greater interaction by having more youth groups and volunteers involved such as the Big Begawan Cookout and Kaleidoscope. The event is also participated by the National Association of the Deaf (OKP) to teach the public how to communicate in sign language she said, adding that the company wanted a greater interaction between the public and hearing impaired individuals.

“Hearing impaired individuals are very expressive. Some members of the public don’t know how to communicate with them, and I believe it’s time that we start to communicate with them and not the other way around.”

Hjh Noorafzah said the company has also invited DST to participate in the event to showcase their equal opportunity recruitment policy which supports hearing impaired individuals by helping integrate them into the corporate world.

“We are now trying to raise greater awareness on looking after your ears and how to deal with it if you have a hearing problem.”

“Nothing is more important than early intervention so it is important for the public to know how to gain access to these services, to help their child or even themselves,” she added.

The company has so far sponsored 28 student hearing aids since the inception of the charity bazaar, along with sponsorships from DST and Brunei LNG Sdn Bhd (BLNG). Hjh Noorafzah said there is still a need for more hearing aids for hearing impaired individuals in the country.

“From the ones we’ve seen, even if we have 10 more this year and 10 more hearing aids next year, it still won’t be enough.

“We were hoping to also actually go into speech therapy of the students where through the funds raised here, we’re looking at either sponsoring special needs teachers or speech therapists from various organisations who would be willing to do a specialised course called Auditory Verbal Therapy,” she added. The event last night also saw the sponsorship of hearing aids to four students under the Special Education Unit which was presented by Hjh Noorafzah to the Director-General of Education, Haji Abdul Rahim Haji Derus. Hjh Noorafzah said the recipients are chosen by the Special Education Unit.

“Some of the recipients are quite young which is good because we want them to have hearing aids at an early age while the other recipients will soon be sitting for their exams so that will be helpful for their studies.”

The Hearing Awareness Exhibition which takes place from 10am to 10pm, is a joint effort by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, DST and Hear Better Services Company. Through the annual project, Hear Better Services Company hopes the efforts will help to reduce dependency on the government and encourage greater community awareness and cooperation to help each other.

The Brunei Times