New research released by charity Auditory Verbal UK for Deaf Awareness Week has revealed that more than a quarter (28%) UK adults 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 Ernie Dix (17), from London, who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a baby. Now he is studying film and TV at the London Screen Academy with ambitions to work in the film industry after being supported to listen and speak with the specialist Auditory Verbal therapy programme at charity Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) when he was a young child. 

Ernie’s Mum Chrissi explained: “There is no way that his spoken language and listening would be so good without the amazing support we had from that very first visit to AVUK onwards. I didn’t think Ernie would ever speak let alone say the word Mum. We are still so incredibly thankful to all the staff at AVUK, but also disappointed that years on from Ernie’s diagnosis, awareness and expectations for deaf children and young people are still low and that families do not know what options are out there for them.” 

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. 

“I have been profoundly deaf since birth and have never felt it has held me back, I think a big part of this is my therapy at AVUK because I have learnt to be a good listener which in turn has helped me access all speech sounds so I speak very clearly and can be understood and I understand others. It is disappointing to hear that 28% of adults believe that children born profoundly deaf will not speak as well as their peers and even more frightening that so many profoundly deaf children don't have the access to Auditory Verbal therapy."

“Being deaf doesn't define my abilities, it shapes my unique perspective on the world.” - Ernie.



(Picture of Ernie)


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 85% of UK adults 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 on UK Government to urgently support and invest in Auditory Verbal therapy so every family with a deaf child to have the option to access Auditory Verbal therapy through publicly funded services in their local area. 

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!    

(Tasha Ghouri, pictured second from right with young deaf people at Auditory Verbal UK)

AVUK Chief Executive, Anita Grover, said: “This new research shows that perceptions and expectations of what deaf children can achieve are really outdated and far too low.   But we know that when deaf children, like Ernie, 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 

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!” 

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. 

* YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2075 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 14th April 2024.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).