It's Deaf Awareness Week 2020 and we are celebrating the amazing winners of our national literacy competition.

The competition was central to The Power of Speech event due to be held at the House of Commons in June - now postponed to June 2021. It highlights the potential for deaf children in contrast to generally poor literacy levels as well as showcasing the writing and speaking abilities of profoundly deaf children who have attended the AVUK specialist listening and spoken language programme.

Six outstanding entries have been picked and each winner can still claim their prize – the opportunity to perform their work in the iconic Westminster venue next year.

But we didn’t want to wait that long to celebrate their amazing efforts and achievements so as part of Deaf Awareness Week 2020 you can watch them all here

Auditory Verbal UK Chief Executive Anita Grover said:

“Many people are surprised to learn that profoundly deaf children can speak as well as their hearing peers. The winners of our Power of Speech competition dispel the thinking that deaf children cannot learn to talk or write creatively. Their performances speak for themselves. We are looking forward to seeing them share their work in the House of Commons next year as well as publishing further research on the outcomes being achieved by children like them who have attended Auditory Verbal UK’s family-centred, early intervention programme. These deaf children are bucking a national trend of underachievement in literacy and their attainment levels are on a par with typically hearing children at the end of Key Stage One.”

The Power of Speech competition was open to all children who are currently on the AVUK programme or had graduated from it in the past. Entrants were asked to submit a piece of creative writing, up to 500 words, in the form of a story, play or poem and present it alongside a video of themselves performing the work.

AVUK’s specialist listening and spoken language programme equips parents and carers with the skills and strategies to develop their child’s listening and spoken language.

The competition was judged by AVUK’s Auditory Verbal therapists alongside Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas; Samantha Baines, actor, comedian and author of Harriet Versus The Galaxy - about a girl who wears hearing aids, as does the author; and children’s author and winner of the 2019 Costa Children’s Book Award, Jasbinder Bilan.

Samantha has one-sided hearing loss and wears a hearing aid in her right ear said: “I was delighted to be asked to judge this competition. There is a lot of stigma surrounding deafness and it's so important to me that young people don’t see hearing loss or deafness as something that will hold them back, just like the hero of my book Harriet whose hearing aid is actually her superpower. It was incredible to be part of a competition that showcases how creative, imaginative and talented young people with hearing loss and deafness are. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their brilliant stories and watching their fantastic performances.”

And Jasbinder explained: “It was such a real honour to judge this competition. Without exception, all the entries were of such a high standard that my job was virtually impossible. They all had such spark, originality and individuality. Very impressive indeed! ‘

The competition was judged in three age categories and the winners were:

Under 9s

Callum Herholdt (5) with his story about a Magic Egg. Callum was diagnosed with a moderate hearing loss as a baby and fitted with hearing aids at two months. He spent three years on the AVUK programme and started school with the same language level as his hearing classmates. He now chats all the time with his friends and family.

Alana Burton (7) who wrote to her diary about Mount Vesuvius’ eruption and destruction of Pompeii. Alana’s hearing loss was diagnosed at birth and she had her first set of hearing aids at three months old. She started with AVUK at 18 months of age and in the first six months of her programme, her equivalent language age rocketed by 17 months. She loves school, music and her many clubs and gained the highest possible mark in her Key Stage 1 SATs tests.

9 to 12s

Jasper Loten (12) whose poem tells his own story of being a twin who finds his own personality and voice thanks to AVUK. Jasper and his twin brother were born two months prematurely and he battled jaundice and meningitis. The full extent of his hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until he was two and a half. He started with AVUK soon afterwards and received cochlear implants a year later. After a difficult start, Jasper is now flourishing at school and his confidence continues to grow – he spoke at his school’s open day to a packed auditorium.

Khush (9) tells the story of a Super Old Man of 101 years given superpowers by a magical ruby. Khush is an AVUK Young Ambassador and, like his sister, was born profoundly deaf. He attends a mainstream school, loves sports and plays the piano.


Lauren Press (14) describes an Interstellar Journey in a poem about space and the planets. Born profoundly deaf, Lauren received cochlear implants in operations at aged two and then six years old and has starred in CBBC show Rocket Island.

Ava Pearson (13) wrote a poem about living with tinnitus. Her hearing loss was diagnosed as a baby and she received cochlear implants in two operations, at nine months and then at 14 months. Her family describe her achievements thanks to AVUK as ‘“miraculous’. She excels at school and at LAMDA, plays the saxophone and loves art.