| The Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing
(JISH) is an example of how private Saudi citizens and families seek to
contribute to the improvement of the lives of those with special needs.
Established in 1993, the non-profit organization is dedicated to the
provision of advanced services for those with speech and hearing
Over the past five years, more than 3,000 patients have completed rehabilitation courses at JISH. These patients range in age from infants to the elderly and come to JISH seeking help with various communication disorders. The institute provides diagnostic and treatment services for the full spectrum of speech and hearing problems, including those caused by physical defects as well as psychological factors.
A team of highly trained pathologists and audiologists use an array of the most advanced equipment for the assessment and treatment of speech- language and hearing disorders, and rehabilitation, fluency (stuttering) management and hearing conservation programs. They also establish and implement individualized treatment protocols for all patients and provide training and counseling for parents of children with communication problems. At any one time, approximately 200 patients are undergoing treatment for different communications disorders. Once they complete the recommended course of treatment, they are put on maintenance schedules and come in once a week to monitor their progress.
What makes the programs offered by JISH stand apart from those available in other such facilities around the world is that they are specifically designed for Saudis and other Arabs. Programs written in Arabic and in accordance with the indigenous culture are more effective, and therefore JISH emphasizes their development and use.
In addition to treating patients, JISH is dedicated to conducting research in the field of human communication and communication disorders as well as to training specialists in its field. The institute offers a masters program in cooperation with San Jose State University. Under a special arrangement, professors from the university conduct courses for the three-and-a-half year program. JISH also conducts workshops with visiting professors from American and European universities.
The brains behind the entire operation is Mrs. Sultana Alireza-Zahid. Raising three hearing-impaired children, she is well aware of the demands of finding professional help for native Arabic- speakers. She observes that while the Saudi government has made considerable progress in addressing such needs by sending citizens abroad for advanced training and establishing facilities in the Kingdom, she felt that because of her personal experience she could make a contribution.
With the support of her husband, Waleed Yousuf Zahid, the director of the board of trustees of JISH, she set out to establish the institute. "We wanted to do it in a proper manner that would be good enough" to meet the needs of Saudi families, she said. "It is our responsibility as citizens of this country to give back to society," Mrs. Alireza-Zahid explains. "As women, if we can look after our family and our responsibilities, then it is our duty to give back to society" as much as possible. In this respect, JISH reflects the fulfillment of the duties of many. While Mrs. Alireza-Zahid contributes her time and management skills, some physicians and specialists donate their services; and the entire operation is subsidized by the Zahid and Alireza families as well as other private supporters.
The operation's success is reflected in the fact that it attracts patients not only from the Jeddah region, but also from the entire Kingdom as well as from other countries in the Arabian Gulf region.