Starkey Hearing Institute Graduates

The first cohort of students at the Starkey Hearing Institute in Zambia graduated Friday, marking a significant milestone in Starkey Hearing Foundation’s quest to train 300 community-based hearing healthcare workers in Africa before 2030.

Graduates representing eight African nations received certification as Hearing Instrument Specialists. They are now qualified to practice community-based, primary, and secondary ear and hearing health services in both rural and urban African communities. These new specialists will play a critical role in eradicating preventable hearing loss and empowering people to achieve their potential.

In Zambia, it is estimated that 750,000 people, or 5 percent of the population, are living with hearing impairment. And in Sub-Saharan Africa where the population topped 1 billion in 2015, the number is as high as 36 million people. The statistics underscore the urgent need to increase the number of individuals who can provide quality hearing healthcare to improve the lives of those with hearing loss. During the graduation, leaders from Zambia and the Institute reiterated the demand.

“The work that you do, and the work that you will do, is very, very important,” said Esther Lungu, the first lady of Zambia and a champion for the establishment of the Institute. “It is very, very important not to us as individuals, but to the whole world. You help bring families together by helping families communicate. You help children reach their highest potential by ensuring that they can hear their teachers. You are the hope for the hearing impaired and you should be proud of what you have achieved.”

Khotsu Kebise, 27, of Lesotho, has worked as a country coordinator with the Foundation for the past three-and-a-half-years as. He said the hearing instrument specialist program gave him a renewed sense of fulfillment and purpose.

“I am so eager to go back home to develop other people who are as zealous as I am,” he said. “To establish an army of champions who will go out into the community and give the gift of hearing … I want the team that I am going back home to lead to be the best team. The Institute will help me do that. I feel really excited and really proud to be one of the first students here.”

Starkey Hearing Institute expands the vision of William F. Austin to provide accessible hearing care to those who cannot hear. This model is precedent-setting in shifting the paradigm toward the possibility that all the world can hear.

“One person, one act of kindness, one piece of land. . . Is effecting the lives of millions of people,” Austin said.

The opening of the Institute on March 17, 2016, was a capstone event in Austin’s more than 50 year career of giving the gift of hearing and expanding the WFA® Community-Based Hearing HealthCare model to 51 countries, which is unprecedented in global hearing healthcare.

“We are giving our students employment opportunities by providing them with an internationally recognized hearing healthcare education said, Alfred Mwamba, Au.D., executive director, Starkey Hearing Institute. “These graduates will break down the barriers of a silent world for people with hearing loss in Africa.”

More News & ideas