In August, six audiology doctoral students were sent to Guatemala to fit children with hearing aids.
They went in conjunction with Sandra Clark-Lewis, clinical professor of audiology in the Department of Communication Disorders, who was awarded $14,749 from Auburn University for her previous efforts with children needing hearing aids.
Her project, which won the award, was called “Auburn Audiology Outreach in Guatemala” and provided auditory screening to 500 children at three inner-city schools in Guatemala.
The College of Liberal Arts provided an additional $3,800 to fund the August trip.
Martha Miller, Department of Communication Disorders alumna, accompanied the group to Guatemala, bringing with her 40 digital hearing aids.
“This is phenomenal, humbling experience,” Miller said.
On the first day of the group’s project, they tested 92 children for hearing loss and equipped three with hearing aids.
Testing in Guatemala takes adaptation.
“The school had put up two portable sound buffering walls which helped with the noise,” Miler said.
During the third day of audiology testing, the struggles of working in Guatemala became evident to Miller.
“This is truly audiology, commando style,” Miller said. “Where is my sound proof booth? Maybe a simple speech threshold? I have learned they are entirely unnecessary to fitting a hearing aid. Learning to improvise without the use of sophisticated technology was a portion of the group’s experience in Guatemala.”
The group received a visit from an Auburn alumna while in Guatemala. Georgiana Mariscal was the first audiologist in the country.
In a letter to Patricia Azu, who facilitated the partnership with Guatemala schools, Jay Gouge, Auburn University president, expressed his esteem for the program.
“It is my hope our audiology students will graduate with a greater appreciation of their place in the global community and will dedicate themselves to the sort of selfless service that your life has so clearly expressed,” Gouge said.