The Ministries of Education and Health have recognized the importance of screening, and assessment in order to identify children with disabilities for early intervention. However, the infrastructure to support these activities is inadequate and as a result the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) wants to build awareness and strengthen the capacity to support these services. The JAD has identified as a priority the need for public awareness of hearing health in order to provide comprehensive hearing enhancement and conservation programs. With this awareness, JAD can more easily identify children at risk for hearing loss and deafness through screening methodologies in the communities. By conducting screenings, a referral process can take place to ensure early and appropriate interventions.

JAD, in its hearing services division, plans to implement a countrywide public awareness campaign to sensitize people about the importance of hearing health, the need for early intervention, and the services provided. A screening, diagnostic, and referral program will target infants, pre-primary and primary school children from which an impact study will be made.

The parishes of St. Catherine, Kingston & St. Andrew, St. Thomas and Clarendon have been targeted due to a high incidence of children with hearing loss residing therein as found through statistics from the Jamaica Association for the Deaf. With the goal to promote literacy and personal development we intend to screen more children and at an early age to facilitate early intervention. The sample size will be divided into three age ranges; 0-2+ yrs, 3-5 yrs, and 6-8yrs. Children aged 0-2+yrs. will also be chosen from ‘Well Baby’ clinics and Immunization Centres as these are the three main checkpoints in a child’s development and so will be of easier access. Children aged 3-8yrs. will be chosen from Infant and Primary schools in the parishes identified.