History of our organization
Foundation of organization
Our organization has been founded in 1990 under the name of Federation of parents and friends of the hearing impaired, and its creation was initiated by parents of hard-of-hearing children. These parents wanted to vindicate their kids rights as well as help them to pursue their interests. The main focus was on improving educational options for children, so their level of knowledge could attain to the levels of knowledge in regular schooling facilities. Parents wanted for their children an option of integration to natural children’s groups and also they were trying to reinsure future positions in a job market. These parents were inspired by experiences from foreign countries, they studied foreign literature and also they took advices from the deaf.
The situation for children with hearing impairment was not fortunate. Sing language was not seen as an equal mean of communication. There was not a law about sign language. At school there was only an oral method of education, parents were forced to place their children into boarding schools at a pre-school level. Kids were ranked according to the level of their loss of hearing and their educational outlines were reduced. Simultaneously, there was a very limited selection of the fields of study; therefore kids were not able to choose what they want to do in life. The teachers were taught that children with hearing impairment is linked to mental disabilities and that kids with hearing loss are not able to think in an abstract way. Unfortunately, also the situation regarding compensation aids was not satisfactory. Kids were given portable hearing aids that were of a very poor quality. Digital hearing aids did not exist and neither did cochlear implants.
First period 1990-1994
Shortly after its foundation the Federation became a member of international parents’ organization FEPEDA (European Federation of Parents of Hearing-Impaired Children) and it remains its member till today. During the first period of functioning of the Federation its members focused mainly on increasing awareness of expert and laic community about hearing impairment. They founded also Information Centre of Parents and Friends of the Hard-of-hearing. Within this Centre they carried on also a library which gathers literature regarding hearing disabilities, they also focused on translations and on a publication work. The library is a unique facility within the Czech Republic; you can find more than 6000 publications there. More activities were conducted towards the preparation of the law about sign language and also towards changing the expert opinion on the theme of hearing impairment. Among first services there was a specialized psychological consulting for the deaf.
Second period 1995-2000
The organization became more professional and expert. In 1995 after a failed attempt to convince at least one of the three Prague schools for the deaf to open a class with a sign language as a main teaching language the organization founded its own Bilingual school for the children with hearing impairment. In this school there was used a bilingual method for education of children; the method that was at the time very popular and rewarding in northern European countries and also in USA.
In 1998 the law about sign language is enforced and accepted that provided the right for free courses of sign language for the parents. The Federation started to publish an expert magazine INFOZpravodaj. The workers engaged in a preparation of the law about social services, they attended conferences and worked through the standards of the service of early intervention.
In 1999 the Federation began to provide the service of early intervention throughout the Czech Republic. It provided also – social consulting, plenty of leisure activities and hobby groups for children, also weekend or week length stays for families. The Federation organized large cultural and educational events not only for deaf audience. The Federation also realized projects regarding the integration of kids with hearing impairment, the implementation of full-area neonatal screening of hearing loss. It also worked on education of the medical employees in the area of communication with a hearing-impaired patient. The team of experts enlarged, they attended conferences, worked in work groups established by ministries. Publication was also very important; materials published by the Federation were modern, educational bases for future experts. The Federation got a respectable and stable place among other institution in the area of care of the hearing-impaired children.
Third period 2001–2003
During this period our organization went through another process of professionalization. According to the changes in the society also the attitude of parents was changing. At this point they needed mostly high-quality services not only companionships. Our member base is active only within offered activities. The law regarding social services was adopted and our Federation participated on this action. The amount of our client families was increasing. Our branch office in Olomouc was established in this period and our services were offered and accessible throughout Czech Republic. Through researches, surveys and other activities our organization knotted together important co-operations with pediatricians, phoniatric doctors and other experts. Many important and significant project regarding education and quality of life of people with hearing impairment were realized during this period. Our Federation was a founding member of Asociace pracovníků v rané péči (Association of the worker in early intervention services). Also, its position as a provider of the services for families with children with hearing impairment was stabilizing.
Fourth period 2007–2013
Our Federation registered in 2007 four social services according to the law. For our social activation services, new branch offices we established in Ostrava, Liberec and Pardubice. At this time, our Federation was able to offer a complex of social services, as well as counseling services and also information and educational services. Within one year our services were used by approximately 500–600 families with children with hearing impairment and by over 2000 individual clients. Our organization executed many important, significant, perennial projects that had impact within the whole society. These projects were among other thing endowed by European funds or financed by prestigious foundations. These projects focused mainly on the enforcement of neonatal screening of hearing disabilities, on improving rehabilitation and also on the extension of possibilities of integration for kids with hearing impairment. Also, during this period our Federation dedicated its time to information and educational activities. The Federation filmed four documentaries and also developed a mobile app called Znakujte s námi! (Sing with us!) that was rewarded in the competition Aplikace roku 2014 (The app of the year 2014) and obtained third place. The Federation continued in organizing quite large cultural and edifying events interpreted into sign language. For the support of its activities the Federations gained some very important figures from cultural, political and also scientific fields.
In 2013 the organization went through a transformation, civic association (občanské sdružení) changed its form and became community interest society (obecně prospěšná společnost). Therefore, the legal form of the organization changed, its history and its identification number remained the same. The name of the organization was changed to Centrum pro dětský sluch Tamtam, o. p. s. – Centre of Children with Hearing Impairment Tamtam.
Another important moment is linked to the fact that the nature of provision of the services changed from nationwide to regional. Tamtam was trying to be an active participant in community planning in each region and also wanted to cultivate fair and quality relationships on the reginal level. The system of financing is different in each region as well as regulations and demands. The situation was very challenging especially because Tamtam was trying to provide its services in all of the region of Czech Republic in the range of all four services.
New period since 2014
Since 2014 the organization has been known under a new name. Tamtam deepened cooperation with neonatologists and phoniatric doctors. The work aimed mainly on systemic changes and also on standardization in the area of care of the children with hearing impairment as well as in the area of health care. Tamtam also very intensely engaged in the area of interdisciplinary cooperation. Another large projects came in realization, another mobile application was being developed and the Centre was also active in publishing. Tamtam was very successful in obtaining some rather great funding from e. g. Sirius, NROS, Johnson&Johnson or „Pomozte dětem!“. Important part of the focus of our organization was to realize projects that would be able to fulfill the main mission which was and still is – to advocate and promote the interests of children with hearing impairment. Main activities of the organization were focusing not only on standard social services but also on the areas of diagnostics, compensation of hearing disabilities, rehabilitation and also integration of children in society.
Strategic objectives of the organization were at this point targeted on increasing the quality of our services and also on complementing the range of services of Tamtam so it would have been able to provide a full package of everything the families might need. In all-society criterion the organization is determined to enlarge awareness in the professional circles as well as with the non-expert audience. It is important to talk about hearing impairment, about the needs of children and adults suffering from any hearing disability, about accessing all and every area of daily life such as barrier free health care, culture, education, sport. Also it is very important to work on providing systematic support for the families with children with hearing impairment on regional level.
Every child is entitled to obtain an early examination of the hearing as well as early and high-quality diagnostics of hearing impairment. Another step is obtaining suitable compensation aid that is sufficient within international standards, rehabilitation and education that is taking in account child’s individual needs.
The situation is not ideal. But at this point parents are familiar with their rights and with rights of their children and they are very often trying to meet and fulfill those right. And in this mission Tamtam is ready to help them and to continue to support them.