Deaf Awareness Week: new research reveals South East adults lack of awareness of what deaf children can achieve

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New research released by charity Auditory Verbal UK for Deaf Awareness Week (May 6 to 12) has revealed that more than a quarter (27%) of adults in the South East of England believe it is not possible for a child born profoundly deaf today to learn to speak as well as a child without hearing loss.

With the early and effective support from Auditory Verbal therapy, deaf children can learn to speak like their hearing peers. Deaf children like Sam Callaghan (12) who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a baby and supported to listen and speak through the specialist Auditory Verbal therapy programme provided by Auditory Verbal UK.

Sam’s Mum Jo said: “We will always be so grateful for all the support AVUK gave us not just when Sam was on the programme but moving forwards When we received Sam’s diagnosis we were so worried about his future. Would he make friends? How would he get on at school and develop interests in everything life has to offer? Now those fears are not even a consideration. Sam he loves secondary school, he loves space and is a budding filmmaker. But to hear that so many people do not know what is possible for deaf children like Sam is disappointing and expectations and awareness needs to change.”

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Auditory Verbal therapy supports deaf children process the sound they get from their hearing technology, like cochlear implants and hearing aids, to develop language so they can learn to talk like their hearing friends. When deaf babies receive hearing technology, the brain needs to learn how to make sense of this sound as they don’t magically work on their own.

Sam Callaghan is challenging perceptions of what def children can achieve - Deaf Awareness WeekSam Callaghan is challenging perceptions of what def children can achieve - Deaf Awareness Week
Sam Callaghan is challenging perceptions of what def children can achieve - Deaf Awareness Week

Despite the transformational impact, currently only 10% of deaf children under five in the UK currently have access to Auditory Verbal therapy.

Now, new YouGov research shows 83% of adults in the South East of England believe Auditory Verbal therapy should be available to all deaf children via publicly funded services (ie, the NHS), while only 2% think it should be paid for privately.

This comes as charity Auditory Verbal UK calls for the Government to urgently support and invest in Auditory Verbal therapy so every family with a deaf child has the option to access Auditory Verbal therapy through publicly funded services in their local area.

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Tasha Ghouri, deaf influencer and model, said: “Far too many people don’t know or understand what deaf people can do and accomplish, or even that deaf children can learn to speak really well. As a proud deaf person and cochlear implant user, I am passionate about using my platform to educate people in deaf awareness. By sharing our stories and diverse experiences of deafness we can hopefully help others and bust myths! [VB1]

AVUK Chief Executive, Anita Grover, said: “This new research shows that perceptions and expectations in London of what deaf children can achieve are really outdated and far too low. But we know that when deaf children and young people, like Sam, have access to early and effective support, their opportunities in life can be transformed. Early and effective support is vital whether a child uses sign language, spoken language or both.

“This Deaf Awareness Week, we want everyone to increase their expectations of what deaf children and people can do and take action, big or small, to challenge the current knowledge gap so all deaf children can have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers.”

Recent research shows that around 80% of children who spend two or more years on an Auditory Verbal therapy programme are achieving spoken language skills on a par with hearing children. This is in stark comparison to figures which show that deaf children have achieved an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE for at least seven years in a row.

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Tasha added; “The work Auditory Verbal UK does to support deaf babies and children to learn to listen and talk is amazing and it has been fantastic to meet some of children and young people they support to understand the benefits of Auditory Verbal therapy and how it has helped them at home, in school and in life. I love how confident they are and challenging myths that they can't do things because they are deaf. It's great!”[VB2]

Economic analysis has shown that for an investment of just over £2 million a year in Auditory Verbal therapy provision for the next 10 years, services for deaf children can be transformed and economic benefits of £152million, rising to £11.7billion over 50 years can be unlocked.

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