When children who are hard-of-hearing are given hearing aids or cochlear implants, the aim is not simply to improve their hearing. The real purpose is to help them take part in activities that all children should be able to enjoy, such as going to school, making friends, playing sports, and having fun. However, it's not enough to just ensure that the hearing devices are working properly. We need to also assess if they are actually helping the children to have the freedom to do things that are important to them.
Researchers Wouter Rijke and Gert Jan van der Wilt from the Department for Health Evidence and Anneke Vermeulen and Margreet Langereis from the ENT Department collaborated with Krista Willeboer and Harry Knoors from Royal Dutch Kentalis to study these children’s capability. They published their results in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education on 2 May, 2023.
This study is part of a PhD project by Wouter Rijke on the capability approach. During his PhD, he attempted to operationalize the capability approach, which states that a justified society means the equality of capability: the freedom to do things that are considered valuable. The researchers found that deaf and hard-of-hearing children were able to do many of the same things as hearing children, such as playing sports, having hobbies, and spending time with friends and family. However, they needed some extra help, like hearing devices or sign language, to do these things. The researchers also point out that it's important for typical hearing children and adults to interact with deaf and hard-of-hearing children to help them feel included and supported. Finally, the researchers suggest that it's important to focus on the child's goals and capabilities when planning rehabilitation and support. The Department for Health Evidence is currently looking into implementing capability in the health care process.
Rijke, W. J., Vermeulen, A. M., Willeboer, C., Knoors, H. E. T., Langereis, M. C., & van der Wilt, G. J. (2023). Capability of Children with Hearing Devices: A Mixed Methods Study. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.