My name is Sophie Williams and I am a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who specialises in working with children with hearing loss and I absolutely love what I do. So why do I want to complete 3-5 years of post-graduate training to become a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist? (I’ll refer to this as LSLS Cert AVT from here on in because it’s a bit of a mouth-full otherwise!)

Sophie Williams

Reason one - Outcomes

The outcomes are so positive and isn’t this what matters the most? I became a SLT because I wanted to help people and make a difference in people’s lives like a youth worker did in mine when I was a teen. Usually what triggers a referral to Speech and Language Therapy is adults around the child noticing that the child is not reaching communication milestones and so often children are 2 years old or more when they are referred to SLT. In the case of hearing loss we do not need to wait for signs of language delay because we already know the impact sensory deprivation will have on a child’s language development (Dorothy Bishop, K. Mogford, 2013) unless they are immersed in a sign language or the auditory brain is stimulated with appropriate hearing technology. This means that AVT follows natural development in patterns of audition, speech, language, cognition and communication (Cole & Flexer, 2016) because AVT starts early; it starts before the child’s language is delayed and this is possible in the UK because early detection of hearing loss is possible thanks to the new born hearing screening. International studies have shown that children enrolled on auditory verbal programmes have achieved age-appropriate spoken language by the age of 5; if not before (Fulcher et al, 2012, Rhoades, 2001, First Voice, 2018) and AVUK’s own outcomes (Hogan, 2016, Hitchins, 2018) support this evidence. This is so important because we know that children’s language skills at age 5, when a child starts school are a strong predictor of academic, economic and social outcomes in life (Feinstein et al 2016, Law et al 2009). So what better way to make a difference in a child’s life? I’ll never forget the first little boy I met who’d graduated from a programme of AVT; once you see what is possible it’s hard not to want to be a part of that.

Evidence base for Auditory Verbal therapy

Sophie Williams

Reason two - Life Long Learning

Do you ever feel like the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know? I certainly do and so I am always learning. The Health Care Professions Council, our regulator, requires SLTs to keep up with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) but every SLT I’ve met wants to do this work. Maybe it’s something they put in the water at university but this is how I studied for my level 1 and 2 qualifications in British Sign Language (BSL) whilst doing my BSc in Speech and Language Therapy. I loved working in schools with children who were learning through BSL or sign supported spoken English. Now that I am working with very young children and their families who are starting out on this journey, I want to be confident that I am offering them the best possible early intervention. For those families who want their deaf child to learn to listen and talk, I want to learn how to better my auditory habilitation practice to follow Listening and Spoken Language strategies and principles as in AVT. AVT is first and foremost a parent coaching intervention because children learn language from their caregivers and so I hope to further develop my coaching and counselling skills with this training. To become a LSL Specialist, the professional (a qualified SLT, Teacher of the Deaf or Audiologist) must be certified by the A.G.Bell Academy which involves completing 80 hours of clinical and professional development; mentorship from a certified LSL professional; Evidencing 900+ hours of clinical experience of LSL practice; completing an essay and an exam and receiving letters of recommendation from parents and other professionals. That seems like a lot doesn’t it? The way I see it is the rigorous post-graduate training means parents can trust in the quality of the support they are receiving. It feels less daunting though with AVUK’s training courses. They provide the number of CPD hours required, mentorship and support with the application to A.G. Bell and the bursaries on offer make certification an achievable reality.

AVUKs training package

Sophie Williams

Reason three - Accessibility

My final reason is this: Auditory Verbal Therapy is one approach and there are a multitude of factors that families consider when choosing the best approach for their child but availability, distance and cost should not be deciding factors. AVUK is on a mission to train professionals so that families can access AVT locally to them and through publically funded services. I’m based in Yorkshire and I want AVT to be an option for all pre-school deaf children here.

Written by Sophie Williams


Dorothy Bishop, K. Mogford (2013) Language Development In Exceptional Circumstances. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Elizabeth, B. Cole & Carol, Flexer (2016) Children with Hearing Loss Developing Listening and Talking. Plural Publishing.

Feinstein, L. And Duckworth, K. (2006) Development in the early years: Its importance for school performance and adult outcomes. London: Centre for research on the wider benefits of learning

First Voice (2018). First Voice graduate outcomes outcomes report. Available here:

Fulcher A, Purcell AA, Baker E, Munro N. Listen up: children with early identified hearing loss achieve age-appropriate speech/language outcomes by 3 years-of-age. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Dec;76(12):1785-94

Hitchins ARC, Hogan SC. Outcomes of early intervention for deaf children with additional needs following an Auditory Verbal approach to communication. International Journal or Pediatric Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 Dec;115:125-132

Hogan S. (2016) The Auditory Verbal Approach in the UK: A 10 year audit of outcomes for pre-school children in the UK Oral presentation to British Society of Audiology Annual Conference, Coventry, UK

Law, J., Rush, R., Schoon, I.. and Parsons, S. (2009) Modeling Developmental Language Difficulties From School Entry Into Adulthood: Literacy, Mental Health, and Employment Outcomes. Journal of Speech, language and hearing research, 52 (6)

Rhoades, E. & Chisholm, T. (2001) Global Language Progress with an Auditory-Verbal Approach for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. International Pediatrics 16(1):41-47.