As part of a collaborative team of researchers, educators and communities members, Professor Millet received funds for the BHENY initiative, which aims to address the educational needs of children with hearing loss in Arctic regions. Children in Arctic regions have a very high prevalence of hearing loss, a fact which has been well known for decades. Surprisingly, this has not been recognized as an underlying cause of poor literacy, academic achievement, attendance and graduate rates. BHENY addresses hearing loss as a primary cause of these programs, and seeks to improve the lives of youth with hearing loss living in the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut through a multipronged approach to provide better hearing for children in school. It will:
- implement classroom based amplification technology;
- provide professional development, training and support for educators through a Virtual Resource Centre created through partnership with the Faculty’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program;
- improve audiology services in the north in education and to support the sole full-time audiologist for the entire Nunavut region; and
- engage parents in the community by providing information that enables them to support the needs of children with hearing loss.
A diverse team of hearing health care professional, educators, advocacy groups and Rotary Clun members from the north and south have developed a sustainable plan to ensure project success. BHEY will effect positive and lasting change by addressing the issues and challenges faced by youth listening and learning in the classroom. Improved hearing will result in better access to language of instruction and curriculum, either Inuktitu or English, improved spoken language acquisition and higher literacy rates.
Hearing is fundamental to the learning of language, and language is the basis of culture and its preservation. By focusing on improved hearing as a solution, and providing ongoing support for all involved, this project directly moves knowledge into action.