Giving children a voice in the Philippines

How an Australian speech pathologist worked with school teachers to better support children who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate through speech.

In 2019 Jill Smith, a speech pathologist from Brisbane, took her skills and passion to the Philippines.

She explains that younger speech pathologists in Australia would have worked primarily with children who have always had access to hearing aids.

‘In Australia, most kids who have a profound hearing loss have a cochlear implant,' explains Jill.

Jill worked as a speech pathologist in Australia when that was not the case - so she knows how to teach the students at the Welcome Home Foundation, who do not have access to hearing aids.

‘They've made so much progress, but I don't know how much further they can go now without being able to get some feedback about what are they're doing with their mouths,' says Jill.

‘What we need is for the children to have hearing aids just to refine (their speech) enough so that people can understand them often enough for them to want to keep on trying.’

Arleen Infantado, Deputy Director at the Welcome Home Foundation, says the teachers like Jill because of her passion and desire to assist them.

‘Jill can't just sit down, doing nothing. She's training not only one teacher, or two teachers – (but) all of the teachers!’

Jill says her one wish is that she had come to the Philippines to volunteer when she was younger: ‘and then I could have come more often’.