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Hearing for life, don’t let hearing loss limit you

Friday, November 22

This slogan is a key message for World Hearing Day 2020. The idea behind it is supported by “Ai Ia”, the Charitable Foundation of the habilitation/rehabilitation and development for the Hearing Impaired Children. The foundation was established on April 14, 2016, by the businessman and philanthropist Vano Chkhartishvili. The title of the foundation itself holds a lot to say: it is the first Georgian sentence that a child is introduced to from the very first page of the Georgian elementary school book “Dedaena” (“Mother Language”). The establishment date of the charity foundation - April 14 which is the Mother Tongue Day in Georgia, is also symbolic, as the “Ai Ia” Foundation is the mother tongue of hearing. It aims to promote the process of habilitation/rehabilitation and the full integration of children with hearing impairment into society. The foundation ensures inclusive and equitable education and provides lifelong learning opportunities for everyone by providing complex therapeutic services for hearing impaired children from an early age.

Children with cochlear implants benefit from the foundation services. The need to set up the foundation arose when the state began funding cochlear implant operations in Georgia in 2003. To date, there are more than 500 surgeries conducted. However, it is noteworthy that there was no place for patients to undergo post-cochlear implant rehabilitation. At this stage, 21 beneficiaries of the foundation are provided with free complex rehabilitation services for children from 0 to 6 years and school-age children. The Foundation offers service of Auditory-Verbal Therapist, Speech Therapist, Psychologist, Special Teacher, Art, and Music Therapists. Under the supervision of a foundation consultant, the curriculum supervisor is intended to provide high-quality therapeutic services by ensuring the teamwork of specialists working with the children; Acquiring/developing their competencies and skills; Reviewing cases of the beneficiaries and planning the rehabilitation process. Furthermore, the foundation also provides the medical engineer to enable and regulate the post-cochlear implantation process.

The founders of "Ai Ia" always think of and promote staff qualification. With the support of the foundation, Marina Raidt-Altunashvili a certified music therapist leaving in Germany founded the first Georgian Nordoff-Robbins School of Music. With the support of "Ai Ia", free music therapy courses are organized for the beneficiaries and other children with disabilities within the framework of the one-year project. Moreover, in terms of developing qualifications of specialists in the field, the foundation works closely with various educational institutions to create tailor-made courses and a unique Georgia pilot/masters program.

Next year, the foundation plans to move to a new space, which will be the first-ever rehabilitation center in Georgia built in accordance with the international standards. We believe that with the help of both Georgian and international donor organizations, grant assistance organizations, as well as our ongoing collaboration with international colleagues and industry experts, we will be able to offer modern, high-quality services to deaf and hearing-impaired children with special needs and their parents and help them to develop skills to live an independent and full life. (“Ai Ia”)