Established in 2007, the Ratmalana Audiology Centre is a non-profit making organization which provides medical assistance to the children of the Deaf School, in terms of screening for their hearing difficulties. It also attends to their speech concerns, free of charge.
The centre came about as a result of a donation by Dialog Telecom to the Deaf and Blind School as a part of their CSR project. “Most of the children at the Deaf School are from poor families,” says Manager Business Development and Strategic Planning of the Ratmalana Audiology Centre Amal Rodrigo adding that hearing aids are a major requirement for them. These are distributed free of charge thanks to donors.
In addition to students of the Deaf School, the other patients at the centre are those referred by doctors. However, for outside patients treatment is not provided free of charge. Nevertheless, in the event that there are financial constraints, free treatment is provided following a valid form of certification – a letter from the doctors, Grama Sevaka etc indicating financial difficulties. It is with the vision to expand their service that the Centre is now looking at other segments of society who would require their service such as the corporate sector, the elderly, schoolchildren and particularly the newborn.
“Employees attached to organizations in manufacturing, airlines etc who are exposed to noise are a target group. So we have special packages for them to get their hearing tested. Schoolchildren and the elderly are another area that we focus on,” he said.
Mr. Rodrigo adds that in developed countries the screening of newborn babies is done before they are discharged from hospital. “The doctors or the mother of the newborn do not know if the baby can hear or not. Therefore, if there are defects that can be detected and eliminated, this detection is better done at an early stage in life,” he says.
Sri Lanka’s first state of the art centre for testing, this Audiology centre in Borupana Road, Ratmalana has all the equipment necessary and trained staff to conduct modern tests. Housed in a specially designed building with sound proof walls and doors, the Audiology centre conducts hearing tests, the standard Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA) test which is done to establish the degree of hearing loss in a person, the Tympanometry test done to identify the problems in the middle ear, the Otoacoustic Emission test (OAE) for screening of patients for issues in the inner ear, Auditory Brainstem Response test (ABR) for testing hearing sensitivity and the new Auditory Steady State Response (ASSSR) test that confirms the degree of hearing loss.
In addition, counselling by the specialist audiologist on hearing and communication issues, speech and language assessment and therapy, ear wax removal and consultation are some of the other facilities available. The centre is also equipped with conference facilities for medium to small scale presentations and seminars.