Every voice matters
Deaf and hard of hearing children find their voices.
Adapted from the Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC
by Nancy Carson
In 1968, a mother visits a doctor.
Her tiny son cannot hear well.
The doctor says the boy
will never speak clearly.
At 14 months old, the child gets
his first hearing aids.
Now people say the doctor was wrong.
Family looks for options
Later, the mother hears about a new centre.
This centre opened in 1963.
The family is very happy.
They are one of the first families
in the new program.
Success for Stephen
That boy was Stephen O’Keefe.
His speech is not perfect,
but he went to UBC
and became a lawyer.
He is a motivational speaker.
And Stephen also does stand-up comedy.
The Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre (CHSC)
Years later, the centre becomes
The Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of B.C.
Stephen is now the President
of the CHSC Board of Directors.
For more than fifty years,
CHSC in Vancouver has taught children
with hearing loss to listen and speak.
The children do not learn sign language.
They do not learn lip reading.
Only two centres in Canada
use this method of teaching.
About one in 300 children in B.C.
has a hearing loss.
Now 97 per cent of B.C. babies
are tested soon after birth.
This is not true in most other provinces.
Hearing screening for all
The Canadian Paediatric Association
is asking for the testing
and follow-up of all newborns.
Dr. Hema Patel, of Montreal Children’s Hospital,
says Canada is failing its children.
Long periods of hearing loss can affect
the development of a child’s brain.
Communicating well with others
is very important for a child’s social,
emotional and educational development.
Early in, early out
Now very young children
are coming to the Centre.
They learn quickly.
This means they can leave early.
Many now go to Kindergarten
in public schools.
New technology means these children
can hear better and better.
Children can now have cochlear implants (CI).
These special hearing aids help the children learn
to hear and listen well.
Stephen O’Keefe got his CI
when he was in his twenties.
Services at the Centre
Children from birth to eight
go to programs at the centre.
The child’s parents are a very important
part of the teaching team.
The centre also gives support
for children up to Grade 12.
CHSC now has ‘telepractice’.
This is like using Skype on a TV.
This service helps families in Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton,
Quesnel, Gold River and Chemainus.
A very special playground
Canadian Tire owners and Tire Stewardship B.C.
donated a new playground to CHSC.
It is a “sensory playground”
using sight, touch and sound.
Children can play drums.
They can play metal outdoor xylophones.
Recycled rubber from B.C. tires
will be poured onto the ground.
Volunteers from Canadian Tire
put the playground together.
An artist will decorate it with stars and animals.
- motivational speaker: a public speaker who inspires people to become better,
to face their fears, and accomplish greater things.
- stand-up comedy: a comedian performs
in front of a real audience, usually speaking directly to them.
- cochlear implant: A device that is surgically placed within the inner ear,
helping to send sound from the ear to the brain.
It is different from a regular hearing aid,
which simply makes sounds louder.
– to find your voice: to become willing to talk, to have the confidence to speak to others about one’s feelings and hopes; to find your own personal style.
– to have a voice: to take a part in making decisions
The children have a voice in choosing their afternoon activity.
They decide if they will do music, art or reading.
1. Children’s Hearing and Speech Center of B.C.
2. Seven week old boy responds to his first hearing aid
3. Young dancer in New Westminster:
Deafness doesn’t keep me from my passion
4. Click here to learn more about Tire Stewardship B.C.