On the occasion of the International Week of the Deaf, HRH Crown Princess Katherine is bringing awareness of the importance of the newborn babies hearing screening, a three minute test which recognizes if a child has a hearing impairment. Statistics show that in 15% of cases, impairment occur after birth, some of which are mild, while 5% are severe forms that require the implementation of a hearing aid.
Continuing help of the Royal Family to the deaf dates back decades. American writer and disability-rights activist Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, wrote in her diary that during her visit to our country, while she recognized the HM King Alexander I contribution to the blind and deaf people in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
HRH Crown Princess Katherine has been also working for years to raise awareness and help with this issue. With her initiative, a commission for the newborn hearing screening was established, whose ultimate goal is to provide hospitals with proper equipment that is necessary in order to examine all babies in Serbia after birth and before they go home, as well as for the hearing screening of newborns to become mandatory for all hospitals that babies are delivered.
In collaboration with Dr. Daniel Megler from Detroit, an otorhinolaryngologist of Serbian origin, with over 55 years of experience in medicine, HRH Crown Princess Katherine together with Mrs. Gardella as well an expert in this area, successfully organized a trip for hearing-impaired children to a special camp in Detroit, Michigan, together with their teachers. This was a very successful trip that brought a lot of awareness and new knowledge to the Serbian teachers that travelled with the children and their parents.
Also, the Crown Princess Katherine Foundation is actively working in delivering donations of hearing screening devices to hospitals in Serbia and Republika Srpska.
At a time when we are all concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic and when donations are mostly focused on the fight against it, the Crown Princess Katherine Foundation does not forget the importance of hearing screening, and only in the last two couple of months, donated 3 new devices to the “Narodni Front” Clinic in Belgrade, the Clinical Center in Nis and the UCC Republika Srpska.
With these significant donations and the introduction of mandatory hearing screening for newborn babies, Crown Princess Katherine is trying to reduce the number of permanently deaf children in Serbia.
Deaf and hearing-impaired people deserve equal chances in society. HRH Crown Princess Katherine said: “Many great deaf and hearing-impaired people have made great achievements. Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most famous composers that ever lived, was profoundly deaf. Helen Keller writer and disability-rights activist and many others … Many deaf and hearing impaired people are born with this disability and my Foundation and I have been appealing and working for years to introduce mandatory hearing screening for newborns, so that, if it turns out that the child has a hearing impairment, health care system has an opportunity to react adequately and quickly”.