We agree that every family with a deaf child in the UK should have the option to access Auditory Verbal therapy through publicly funded services in their local area.

Sign the consensus statement

This consensus statement has been developed in consultation with deaf children, their families, practitioners and with the support of organisations in the field of childhood deafness, reflecting the latest international evidence for Auditory Verbal practice. It draws on the principles of the International Consensus Statement for Family Centred Early Intervention (Moeller, M.P. et al 2013).

Consensus statement

All children, deaf and hearing, have the right to develop language and communication so that they can achieve their potential in life. Access to the language and communication environment is key to development. For children who are born deaf, especially into hearing families with no experience of deafness, skilled early support is vital if they are to develop language and communication skills.

There are around 7,200 deaf children under the age of five in the UK who face a lifetime of disadvantage without access to skilled early support. At current estimates, they are predicted to have lower academic achievement, lower employment prospects and to be at higher risk of bullying, social exclusion and poor mental health. By ensuring deaf children have access to support during those vital early years and their families are empowered make informed decisions, together we can significantly reduce this disadvantage and transform outcomes for deaf children across the UK.

There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing support for deaf children and their families, to develop language and communication and different children thrive with different approaches. What is of crucial importance is that all deaf children get the best start in life and flourish at school and beyond.

All families should be supported to make informed choices about developing language and communication for their child. Early support, and equitable access to the support, should be available for all deaf children whether their families choose to communicate with spoken language, sign language or both.

Early support - early identification and enrolment in effective early intervention services are key to achieving best communication outcomes for deaf children.

Informed choice - means families can make knowledgeable decisions, which reflect their own culture, values, and views. It is based on access to comprehensive, unbiased, and evidence-based information, about the full range of options (Young, A., et al 2006). Families can't choose what they don't know about.

Access to all options – families should have equitable access, though publicly funded services, to the early support they need to develop language and communication for their child.

Consensus statement


Auditory Verbal therapy  

For families who want their deaf child to learn to listen and speak, Auditory Verbal therapy is a robust, evidence-based, family-centred, coaching programme which equips parents and caregivers with the tools to support the development of their deaf child’s speech through listening. 

But Auditory Verbal therapy is not currently widely available for families through publicly funded services in the UK. This needs to change so every family who wants their deaf child to learn to listen and speak has access to Auditory Verbal therapy through publicly funded services in their local area.


How does it work?

Auditory Verbal therapy is a highly specialised approach to developing spoken language through listening. It works by stimulating the auditory pathways in the brain so, through optimally fitted hearing technology (such as hearing aids and cochlear implants), deaf children can learn to listen and develop spoken language. By supporting and coaching parents and caregivers with strategies to stimulate the pathways, their child’s listening and spoken language is developed though play-based activities that can be used in everyday routines and life. It is continually tailored to the family based on formal and informal assessments that allow for progress to be monitored and evaluated in a way that is meaningful for the family. It is most effective when it is begun early, and parents and caregivers are supported in the approach as soon as possible (Fulcher A. et al 2012).

Auditory Verbal therapy is delivered by a specialist Auditory Verbal therapist who is a qualified teacher of the deaf, speech and language therapist or audiologist who has undergone a minimum of three years of additional post-graduate training to become a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Auditory Verbal therapist (LSLS Cert AVT or LSLS Cert AVEd). 


Consensus statementOutcomes

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International research shows that 89% of children with hearing loss graduating from Auditory Verbal therapy programmes demonstrate language skills on par with their hearing peers (Sound Outcomes 2021). In the UK as many as 80% of deaf children who spent two or more years on an Auditory Verbal programme achieved age-appropriate language skills (Hitchins, A. R., & Hogan, S. C. 2018). This rose to 97% of children without additional needs. The majority attend mainstream schools and are attaining educational outcomes on a par with hearing children. By closing the language gap with their hearing peers, these children have a firm footing on which to develop their future learning, both academic and social.

In the UK 80% of deaf children who spend at least two years on an Auditory Verbal programme achieve age-appropriate spoken language.

Consensus statementEconomic benefits 

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Auditory Verbal practice is a cost-effective approach in terms of the cost to benefit ratio of the programme. A cost benefit analysis in 2016 showed that for every £1 invested in Auditory Verbal therapy there is a £4 return on that child’s future. Furthermore, in 2022, economic analysis shows that an investment of just over £2 million per year for the next 10 years in training a proportion of the existing public sector workforce and supporting children with some of the most complex needs will deliver £152 million of economic benefit to the UK, rising to £11.7 billion over 50 years. 

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Inequality of access

However, despite the evidence, currently around 92% of deaf children under the age of five do not have the option to access an Auditory Verbal programme, as it is not universally available across the UK through publicly funded services.

More than 90% of deaf children under the age of five do not have the option to access an Auditory Verbal programme.


Creating equitable access to Auditory Verbal therapy

To ensure that every family who wants their child to learn to listen and talk will be able to access an Auditory Verbal programme through publicly funded services in their local area, the UK needs to increase the number of specialist Auditory Verbal practitioners in the UK to 300 full-time equivalent by training a small proportion of the existing public sector workforce of speech and language therapists, teachers of the deaf and audiologists. There are only 30 Auditory Verbal therapists in the UK (as of September 2023). Investment is urgently needed to train more professionals to become certified Auditory Verbal practitioners, to ensure that every family who wants their child to learn to listen and talk has the opportunity to access an Auditory Verbal programme.

By signing this consensus statement, we agree that every family with a deaf child in the UK should have the option to access Auditory Verbal therapy through publicly funded services in their local area.

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