The "Orange Backpack" Fundrising Campign, launched by the Audiology Development Foundation of China last year to help teenagers with hearing impairments, has picked up speed recently with the endorsement of online opinion leaders and showbiz celebrities. The project is designed to provide distinctive orange backpacks to students suffering from impaired hearing, so they can be offered assistance if needed. Beijing Youth Daily commented on Thursday:
The campaign, given further support, could better protect and assist kids with hearing impairments. But wearing orange backpacks, some argue, might make the children look unnecessarily "different" or "weak", and risk exposing them to greater dangers, from school bullying to human trafficking.
And it is understandable that some kids prefer to live a normal life without being marked out as "hearing impaired". In truth, it should be up to the students to decide whether they want to use the orange backpacks. Even if some choose to carry such backpacks, they must be watched closely in case criminals or school bullies are tempted to prey on them.
On the other hand, drivers are supposed to be careful while driving near schools and be aware of children, hearing impaired or not. It is potent enforcement that is needed to keep unruly drivers in check, not orange backpacks.
Official intervention might better make a difference in helping kids with hearing problems. Statistics suggest that over 137,000 Chinese children under the age of 6 have impaired hearing. To help these children artificial cochlea implants are called for. That is where local governments can and should play a bigger role.
Reports said 80 percent of U.S. teenagers who have received cochlea implants are able to go to normal schools, but the number in China is barely 50 percent. That points to the fact that in China recovery sessions are not carried through after the kids have their surgery, and public schools are yet to fully embrace students with hearing difficulties. Governments at all levels have a long way to go to assist kids with impaired hearing.