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BEKOL
A New Framework for Hard of Hearing and Deafened People in Israel




Introduction

In the Western world - the United States, Canada, Europe - studies have indicated that 9-10% of the population is hearing impaired. One to two tenth of a percent are deaf and the remainder are hard of hearing. In Israel, research has indicated about the same prevalence of deafness. In regards to the prevalence of hard of hearingness, there has been no research. Most workers agree that there is a strong likelihood that the percentage of hard of hearing people is similar to that in the Western world. A conservative estimate is that there are about 400,000 hard of hearing persons in Israel, making it the biggest group of disabled people, as it is in many other countries.

Hearing loss is caused by a wide variety of causes. However it is also clearly related to age. In the United States, for instance, it has been found that in the age group of 18-34 years, 3.4% are hearing impaired; 55-64, 15.4%; and above 65 it reaches 30-35%.

Deafened people are those who grow up with normal hearing but at some point, either suddenly or gradually, became deaf. Usually they continue to function orally, as do hard of hearing people, but frequently with great difficulty, especially at the beginning.

The major problem of hearing loss is, of course, its deleterious effect on listening and communication skills. Coping with the difficulties that are created depends on such factors as coping motivation and skills, the reaction of family, the rehabilitation services that are available and, very frequently, acquaintance with and support from other hearing impaired people.

The major aims of the proposed new organization for hard of hearing and deafened people are to provide some of the services needed by hard of hearing people, to press for more and better services in the community, to provide mutual support and to improve interaction and communication between us and the normally hearing world out there.

Goals of the Organization

1. Professional Services

Communication therapy

In Israel there is a network of a public and private audiology clinics. These clinics diagnose each patient's hearing problem and recommend the most suitable hearing aid available for his specific needs. Due to the pressure of work, most of these audiology clinics are unable to adequately follow up the adjustment of their patients.

The organization's communication therapist will help individuals and small groups to learn to cope with the difficulties involved while they are adjusting to their new situation.

This treatment will cover the following areas:

Social Worker's Services

The social worker will assist with personal, social, rehabilition and employment needs:

Psychological Services

Hearing impairment affects interpersonal and communication skills, causing difficulties in many cases. A psychologist who specializes in hearing problems will offer the following services:

Social Activities Organizer

The organizer will offer the following services:

The first professionals working will probably be the communication therapist and the social worker. The psychologist and the social activities organizer will be incorporated as soon as possible, i.e. after consolidation of the organization.

2. Considerably Expanding the Use of Hearing Assistance Technologies in Israel

Modern hearing assistance technologies (H.A.T) considerably improves the listening and communication ability of hard of hearing and deafened people. The organization will increase the awareness and encourage the use of H.A.T as much as possible.

We will concentrate on the following activities:

3. Improvement of Awareness and Public Relations

Public education will be conducted on two levels - for the hard of hearing and deafened population and for the general public.

Enhanced awareness and public education for the hearing impaired community will include the following:

Public education to the general public all over the country will utilize all channels: radio, television, newspapers, magazines, leaflets etc. The following subjects will be dealt with:

4. Advocacy for Hard of Hearing and Deafened People

We will work together with other organizations of and for deaf and hard of hearing people in Israel to improve the welfare and life satisfaction of this population. This includes:

5. Operation of Volunteer Groups

Volunteers will do such things as:

6. Other Projects


For further information, contact:

Becky Shocken beckys@inter.net.il

Avi Blau avibl@bigfoot.com