The international evidence in this Position Paper demonstrates that deaf children in the UK could benefit greatly from an investment into making Auditory Verbal therapy more widely available in the critical first few years of a child’s life. Yet the UK currently lags behind many other countries in providing investment in and access to Auditory Verbal therapy.

Provisions across the world


There are currently over 1,000 certified Auditory Verbal therapists worldwide, with this form of early intervention being government-funded in Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. It is also a mainstream approach in North America for enabling deaf children to listen, speak, and to achieve long term social and educational outcomes46. In 2022, following a successful government-funded pilot programme, Auditory Verbal therapy became part of the standard healthcare system in Denmark.


In the UK


92% of deaf children who could benefit from Auditory Verbal therapy are currently unable to access it



In the UK, there is a lack of awareness of what deaf children can achieve, with only 2 in 5 (41%) adults believing a child born profoundly deaf can learn to speak as well as a child without hearing loss65


In addition, there is little to no provision of Auditory Verbal therapy through the NHS and local services. This is because there are currently only 30 Auditory Verbal therapists in the UK as of September 2023. Eleven of these therapists work for AVUK with others based in the National Health Service (NHS), local authorities and in private practice. With full caseloads, these UK-based therapists can only provide therapy for less than 10% of the deaf children under 5 years old in the UK.


Training professionals


To increase access to specialist support, there needs to be more practitioners trained in Auditory Verbal practice working in the NHS and Local Authority Sensory Services who support deaf children across the UK.


Auditory Verbal UK provides internationally accredited training for speech and language therapists, audiologists and teachers of the deaf who wish to become Auditory Verbal practitioners to address this severe need. AVUK have supported 12 UK professionals to become certified Auditory Verbal Therapists, and 16 across the world. As of September 2023, AVUK has 44 professionals, including 17 from the UK enrolled on our foundation courses, and 26 professionals including 7 from the UK on our advanced courses working towards certification.


In 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for England and Wales put forward new guidance for cochlear implant candidacy criteria. The guidance promotes babies being screened within one month, referred for hearing aids within two months and referred for cochlear implantation within a year. If we are to benefit from the investment into early intervention, we need to enable our current public sector workforce to equip parents and carers with the techniques and strategies they need to maximise the potential of their child’s hearing technology and listening and learning skills.


Investment needed


Investment of just over £2 million a year for the next 10 years will unlock £152 million of economic benefit, rising to £11.7 billion within the next 50 years


Economic analysis shows that an investment of just over £2 million a year for the next 10 years to train a small proportion of the current public sector workforce and embed at least 300 specialist therapists within the NHS and local services, while delivering direct support to the most vulnerable children and families, will transform services for deaf children. This investment will unlock £152 million of economic benefit, rising to £11.7 billion within the next 50 years, through improved quality of life, employment prospects, lower costs of schooling and avoided injuries.


We can and should raise the expectations of deaf children and unlock significant educational, social and economic benefits for the UK66.

Ava’s story


I hope that one day soon, many more deaf children will have the same opportunities in life as me, and Auditory Verbal therapy will be available to all families who want it. When I was a baby, my parents found out that I had a profound hearing loss. They didn’t know what the future would be like for me. AVUK has really shaped me into the person I am today and given me the chance to have amazing everyday experiences. I attend a mainstream school, enjoy learning piano and saxophone and have ambitions to be a film director.” - Ava, 16


Orson’s story

“Being deaf is part of who I am and it has never stopped me doing anything I want to. It isn’t fair that all deaf children don’t get the same opportunities that I have had, and I really hope the Government listen to us, so every deaf child gets the support they need.” - Orson, 9

Orson, pictured on left with his family