Anita and Young Ambassadors at Cochlears Achieve Anything Summit

Auditory Verbal UK has today (9 May) welcomed inspirational deaf young people from across the world to their centre in Bermondsey, London, for the start of the Achieve Anything Summit calling on world leaders to address hearing loss and prioritise better access to hearing healthcare and support for millions of children around the globe.    

As part of its Achieve Anything program, Cochlear Foundation has brought together international ambassadors from the UK, Brazil, India, France and the US, who were chosen because they have overcome barriers and achieved so much in life, while inspiring others with hearing loss to fulfil​ ​their ​dreams​​.  

Medal winning British swimmer and equestrian, Suzanna Hext, who had a cochlear implant fitted in 2021 after gradually losing her hearing since birth, joined the session virtually to share her inspirational story with the ambassadors. They then joined an advocacy workshop to explore how they can continue to advocate for their peers and help lead the way developing a global declaration to ensure early and effective support for all deaf babies and children around the world. 

Ava, the UK ambassador, was supported by Auditory Verbal UK to learn to listen and speak as a child. Now aged 15-years-old, she is urging leaders both in the UK and internationally to prioritise better access to hearing healthcare and early support for deaf children.  

Anita and Ava at Cochlears Achieve Anything Summit

 Diagnosed as profoundly deaf at three weeks old, Ava’s parents were shocked by the news and worried she wouldn’t be able to speak, attend mainstream school or enjoy music. By 14 months old Ava had received cochlear implants and soon after begun an Auditory Verbal programme at AVUK, where over several years learnt how to listen and develop spoken language. By the time Ava started primary school, she had the same level of spoken language as her hearing friends.  

Ava, who is now sitting her GCSE’s whilst advocating internationally, has appeared in several media pieces stressing the need for all deaf children to have early and effective support; led a video podcast series interviewing leading experts in childhood deafness; spoken passionately to MPs in UK Parliament at AVUK’s Power of Speech event; and been recognised with a national Inspiring Communicator Award.  

During the summit, the ambassadors will work with hearing advocacy network CIICA (Cochlear Implant International Community of Action) to launch a consultation process for the development of a global declaration on hearing loss for children and young people.   

Anita Grover, CEO of Auditory Verbal UK, who is profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant, said: “These inspirational young people show that deaf children and young adults can achieve anything, and they should have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers. They are leading the way and we are proud to be supporting their efforts to challenge governments to prioritise better access to hearing healthcare and support for millions of children around the globe.     

“We encourage young people who are deaf to share their experiences and ideas with governments and health providers across the world to ensure early and effective support for all deaf babies and children, whether they use sign language, spoken language or both. Together we can raise expectations and outcomes for all deaf children and young people.” 

Cochlears Achieve Anything Summit

Find out more about Cochlear Foundation's Achieve anything program.