BHENY Program achieving success

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Genova Angutimarik, a Student Support Assistant at Attaguttaaluk Elementary School in Igloolik, participated in the Hearing Fair held for students, where at one of the stations, they had fun learning about how northern animals hear. © BHENY

Children in the North have a 32 to 40 per cent higher rate of hearing loss than their counterparts in the south, and as second language learners, hearing is critical to literacy and learning. Thanks to monies received as one of the 2015 Arctic Inspiration Winners, BHENY (Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth) has been seeing much success with their program to assist students with hearing loss.

Lynne McCurdy (project leader) and Barb Holmes travelled by First Air this past fall to the second launch of the Soundfield Amplification Systems in two more schools in Nunavut: Attaguttaaluk Elementary School in Igloolik and Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit, having completed the schools in Pond Inlet and Pangnirtung in the spring. In both locations, the teachers and Student Support Assistants have been trained in the use of this technology which clarifies a teacher’s voice above the normal noise of a busy classroom.

The teachers and the children in all four schools are keen to use the sound systems — the teachers use them everyday in every lesson and the students can share a portable microphone. The benefit is that teachers don’t have to strain their voices to be heard while all students, particularly those with mild hearing loss, either temporary or permanent, can hear their teacher more clearly. It is a win-win situation all around.

BHENY’s mandate is to train staff and implement these Soundfield Systems in all K-Grade 5 classrooms in the Qikiqtani region. Already the Department of Education recognizes the benefits for learning, and is interested in extending the program throughout Nunavut. Northern personnel are being trained to continue the implementation process, with guidance from the BHENY team, with a plan to complete all 11 sites in Qikiqtani over the next two years. A Virtual Resource Centre is also being developed to provide additional online help for schools. So far, the Student Support Assistants, often local northern residents, are the “experts” on site, troubleshooting when necessary. It is a model that BHENY believes is sustainable, a very, important criteria for long term success.

For more details and to track further progress from the BHENY Program, check out: www.Bheny.ca.