In one of the most diverse and multicultural communities in Australia, the team at RIDBC Penrith are experienced in working with multilingual families. They regularly partner with experienced interpreters to provide services in the families’ first language, without compromising on quality of service or outcomes.
Rebecca Maxwell, Area Manager of RIDBC Western Sydney Region, says that cultural sensitivity and high-quality translation are key to delivering outcomes for children from bilingual families. “Our team really take the time to develop a good understanding of the family’s cultural context, their beliefs and value systems and this really makes a difference when it comes to delivering outcomes,” she says.
“We also develop close ties with our interpreters, who know a lot about hearing loss, and we make every effort to ensure that the family continues to work with the same interpreter. This builds a level of trust and a mutual understanding between the family, the interpreter and the clinician, which makes for a better experience and, ultimately, stronger outcomes,” she adds.
For Layelle, her Speech Pathologist and Habilitationist (a Teacher of the Deaf) worked with her to develop fluency in both Arabic and English, ensuring she could communicate with her family, community and peers alike. Her experience was a positive one, and dad Mohamed says that today, Layelle is excelling in every part of her life.
Having bilateral implants, a cochlear implant for both ears, can be a great option for people with significant bilateral hearing loss. It localises sound, and enables more access to sound, particularly speech, where there is background noise.
For children, research has shown that bilateral implants significantly improve speech and vocabulary outcomes. For nine-year-old Layelle, this has her speaking fluently in two languages.
“We considered a lot of options for Layelle,” says Mohamed. “We wanted her to have the best access to sound, and it was also important that she speak both our first language, Arabic, and English.”
Layelle was born with profound hearing loss in both ears. This was the family’s first experience with cochlear implants but not the first experience of hearing loss – Layelle’s paternal uncle was also born deaf.
When Layelle was three, she received her implants. Recalling when her implants were switched on, Mohamed says “It was a really special moment. It was clear she had access to sound and I’ll never forget seeing her face when she first heard us.”
Following switch-on, Layelle received extensive support through RIDBC Penrith, including speech pathology services that encouraged speech and vocabulary development in two languages.
Layelle’s experience with bilateral implants was so positive for the family, that it inspired her uncle to follow, replacing his hearing aids with cochlear implants in his thirties. Mohamed says his brother has also benefited significantly since receiving his implants. “It’s been great for Layelle – and our family. Excelling at school and fluently speaking two languages, she is like any other nine-year-old,” he concludes.