Deaf children and their families are urging Government and organisations to #HearUsNow on World Hearing Day (March 3rd) and calling for investment needed to raise expectations of all deaf children.
Charity Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) is launching #HearUsNow to highlight the need for funding which would enable deaf children to have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers.
Young people like Kurran Doal, from Chigwell, East London, who despite being profoundly deaf and having additional needs is like many 18-year-olds learning to drive, loving clothes and music.
Mum and Dad Avy and Kulvinder explained how after Kurran spent the first two years of his life in hospital and had three life-saving operations they then discovered he was profoundly deaf.
Avy said: “It felt like there was a constant barrage of bad news every day. Discovering Auditory Verbal UK was like finding a huge inflatable balloon full of hope, help and real progress. Every time we went to AVUK, we were inspired and had complete confidence that we were in the safest, expert pair of hands. Through intensive AVT, Kurran managed to hear his first sound – a door bell – around six months after he received his cochlear implants and our therapist helped us put the very first words in Kurran’s mouth.
“For my wife, who had not heard her son say a single word, the best part of four and a half years came when he uttered his first word: “mummy”. It started to feel like we were on a roll and very soon Kurran had 50 or 60 words and was able to articulate most of his needs and demands.”
AVUK is the only UK based charity offering the specialist family-centred Auditory Verbal programme to support deaf children to learn to listen and speak. Four out of five children who attend AVUK for two or more years achieve the same spoken language as hearing children. Most do this by the time they start school and most attend mainstream school.
There are 7,200 deaf children under five in the UK and currently less than 8% can access an Auditory Verbal programme. Economic analysis has shown that investment of £21.5million over 10 years will enable all families the opportunity to choose an Auditory Verbal therapy programme close to their home and free of charge. In the same 10-year period this funding would deliver £152million of economic benefit rising to £11.7billlion across 50 years.
At the launch of #HearUsNow, AVUK Chief Executive Anita Grover said: “#HearUsNow highlights our vision to raise the expectations and opportunities for deaf children. At AVUK, we want to see a world where all deaf children have the same opportunities in life as hearing children. Deaf children currently face the prospect of lower academic achievement, lower employment, and are at higher risk of poor mental health, bullying and social exclusion. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When children and families have access to effective, early support, deaf children can get an equal start at school and opportunities are transformed.
“Early support should be available for all deaf children whether their parents choose to communicate with spoken language, sign language or a combination. We want to enable all families who wish their child to develop spoken language to have the opportunity to access an Auditory Verbal programme through publicly funded services. To do that we need to increase the number of specialist Auditory Verbal therapists working in the NHS and local services.”