The La Carlota City Special Education (SPED) Integrated School was founded in 2003. It started with a few hearing impaired students with Teacher Emilie Gilo as the only teacher. Since then, the school grew steadily as several other areas of exceptionalities were opened like Intellectually Disabled and Visually Impaired classes through the assistance and support of various stakeholders and the Local Government of La Carlota City. Currently, it has 172 enrollees manage by 22 teachers with different specializations. Recently, the school opened its first-ever Fast Learners class.
Starkey Foundation is one of the leading manufacturers of hearing instruments and gadgets, and was founded in 1967 by Bill Austin. It started from a small company and later on became successful through the strong leadership of its founder. Over time, it steadily rose to become one of the fastest growing companies in the field of hearing instruments.
As part of their social responsibility, the company reaches out to communities and schools in different parts of the world to help people with hearing impairment.
Teacher Zoena Ginete, a teacher of Silay City SPED Center and a part-time teacher of Project Free Paglaum of University of St. La Salle introduced the foundation to her students namely Liza Grace N. Martinez and Emelie E. Gilo who are teachers in La Carlota City SPED Integrated School.
Upon completion of the requirements of the foundation, La Carlota City SPED Integrated School was chosen as one of Starkey’s beneficiaries. They conducted testing, measurement of ears and assessment of students last July 21, 2015. The distribution of the gadgets were conducted last December 6, 2015 at St. John’s Institute as an early Christmas gifts to its beneficiaries in Negros Occidental.
An orientation on how to take good care hearing aid was also conducted. A total of 24 elementary pupils and 19 high school students from La Carlota City SPED Integrated School were given free hearing aids by the foundation. It was a dream come true for them as they were eager to hear even just a little sound for the first time in their lives. Each pair of hearing aid costs around P 150,000.00 and the total expense amounted to Php6.45 million for the 43 students.
“Starkey Hearing Foundation brought many changes in my life. I can hear with the help of the hearing aid I received from them. There is a big difference now having a hearing aid compared to relying merely on sign language and hand gestures. The men and women of this foundation helped us see bright future despite our physical disability,” said Jaspher Mariel A. Aplaon, a Grade 9 hearing-impaired student.
Foreign volunteers include doctors and medical practitioners were the ones who initiated the fitting of the instruments. Pau Pau Lim, Western Visayas Coordinator of the foundation, oversees the maintenance of the hearing aids. Every now and then, he visits the school and give free batteries for the instruments and check it from time to time as part of their commitment.
This coming December 7, 2016, they will again conduct an after-care check-up as part of the package. Next year 2017, they will make another assessment for those who were not able to avail the previous year.
“This partnership paved the way for our hearing-impaired learners to appreciate the beauty of sounds. Taking into account their situation because of being physically handicapped, the “little sounds” that Starkey Foundation brought to them is something they will forever treasure. It helps them as they learn to interact with us teachers,” said Teacher Liza Martinez, a Grade 9 hearing-impaired class adviser.