In observance of International Week of Deaf People September 20-26, 2021, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Katherine calls for raising awareness about the Deaf Community and human rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, with a special focus on early diagnosis. On behalf of the Royal Hearing Screening Committee, whose founder and patron is Crown Princess Katherine, the national unity through consistent, coordinated, and widespread mobilization is encouraged.
Crown Princess Katherine and the Royal Hearing Screening Committee appeal to the importance of using equipment for early diagnosis in all maternity hospitals.
„Many deaf and hearing-impaired people are born with this disability, and both my Foundation and I have been making efforts for years to introduce mandatory hearing screening for new-borns, so that, if it turns out that the baby has a hearing impairment, health care system has an opportunity to react adequately and quickly. I believe that no newborn baby should leave the hospital without a three-minute test, to make sure that they do not have a problem”, HRH Crown Princess said.
Congenital bilateral hearing impairment and deafness, as well as deafness acquired in early childhood, lead to a decrease in the emotional, social and communicative development of the child. Early diagnosis of hearing is very important in order to start early intervention. In deaf and hard of hearing children, it must be carried out in the first few months of life, which enables the development and understanding of speech and avoiding permanent consequences of deafness and hearing impairment.
The HRH Crown Princess Katherine Foundation is actively working on delivering donations of hearing screening equipment to hospitals in Serbia and Republika Srpska. At the initiative of Crown Princess Katherine, with the support of the Hearing Screening Committee, several donations were conducted, to the “Narodni Front” Clinic in Belgrade, Delivery hospital Dragiša Mišović, the Clinical Center of Serbia, the Clinical Center in Nis, and the University Clinical Centre (UCC) of the Republic of Srpska and others. With this significant equipment and the introduction of mandatory hearing screening for newborn babies, Crown Princess Katherine is trying to reduce the number of permanently deaf children in Serbia.
Also, in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Megler, an American otorhinolaryngologist of Serbian origin, and Ms. Ardis J. Gardella, President of The Holley Institute from Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation of HRH Crown Princess Katherine successfully organized trips for hearing impaired children to a special camp in Detroit, that brought new knowledge and experience not only for children but also to Serbian teachers that accompanied them.
The International Week of Deaf People is an annual event marked by the global Deaf Community during the last week of September, to commemorate the month when the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf was first held. The International Week of Deaf People strives to promote the human rights of people who are deaf while gathering, becoming united, and showing unity to the rest of the world.