Daisy Brake, 14, from Perthshire, and 19-year-old Stirling University student Tom Broekhuizen, from Edinburgh, who are both deaf and learnt to listen and talk with Auditory Verbal therapy, joined Auditory Verbal UK to share their inspiring stories with Members of the Scottish Parliament and discussed how the Scottish Government can improve outcomes and opportunities for deaf children. 



Speaking to MSPs, including First Minister Humza Yousaf, Daisy and Tom challenged expectation of what deaf children can achieve and called for urgent investment in the life transforming therapy which supported them to have the same opportunities as their hearing peers.


Jeremy Balfour MSP, who co-sponsored the event, said: “It is great to be able to host an event in Holyrood for MSPs to meet deaf children and hear their stories. Both Tom and Daisy completed the Auditory Verbal therapy programme when they were younger and are now able to listen and speak like their peers.


“However, over 90% of deaf children who could benefit from Auditory Verbal therapy are currently unable to access it as there are currently only 3 Auditory Verbal Therapists working in Scotland. For this reason, we are calling on the Scottish Government to invest £180,000 a year for the next 10 years to embed the necessary number of Therapists into the workforce, so all 600 deaf children under 5 can access the programme through publicly funded services.”



Tom, a film, media and journalism student, said: “Thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy when I was younger I can speak like hearing people and I am so excited about the life I have in front of me - the world is not behind a closed door. But not all deaf children and young people have the opportunities I have had. Early and effective support is vital to ensure that deaf children and young people do not face barriers in achieving their ambitions.”


Daisy loves music, plays the piano and is thriving at school, about to sit her National 5’s. She and her twin sister were born prematurely weighing only a few pounds each and Daisy then developed septicemia. Her profound hearing loss was confirmed at three months.


She was joined at Holyrood today by her Mum, Katrina Macdonald, who said: “The expectations for Daisy were incredibly low and we were worried her future looked bleak, but we knew we wanted to do everything we could to support her. Coming from a hearing family we wanted Daisy to learn to speak and everything changed once we found Auditory Verbal therapy. It altered the course of Daisy’s life.”


Daisy said: “Thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy, I can speak like my hearing friends and do anything they can. I’m currently preparing for my National 5s and want to go to university. But this isn’t the case for all deaf children and that isn’t fair. I hope that by speaking to MSPs today they can see why we need to raise expectations for deaf children and young people and why investment is needed now.”


Auditory Verbal therapy is a robust, evidence-based approach that supports deaf children to learn how to make sense of the sound they receive through their hearing technology (such as hearing aids or cochlear implants) so they can learn to talk like their hearing friends.


Research by charity Auditory Verbal UK, the only charity in Scotland that provides Auditory Verbal therapy to families with deaf children, shows that more than 80% of deaf children who attended an Auditory Verbal therapy programme for at least two years achieve the same spoken language skills as their hearing peers – this figure rose to 97% for children without additional needs. The majority are attaining the same education outcomes as children without hearing loss.


But currently less than 10% of deaf children who could benefit from Auditory Verbal therapy are able to access it.


Foysol Choudhury MSP, who co-sponsored the event, said: “Access to early and effective support is vital to ensure all children can reach their full potential in life. 600 children across Scotland could be benefitting from Auditory Verbal therapy but are currently unable to access it, and this needs to change.


“I hope the Scottish Government will consider AVUK’s request for just £180,000 a year for 10 years to ensure that enough specialists are available so all deaf children in Scotland have the opportunity to  to access this transformative programme through existing services.”



Research by YouGov shows that 81% of adults in Scotland believe Auditory Verbal therapy should be available via publicly funded services like the NHS.


Auditory Verbal UK’s analysis shows that by training a small proportion of the current public sector workforce working with deaf children to embed 25 specialist Auditory Verbal Therapists across Scotland, deaf children would have the opportunity to access Auditory Verbal therapy through existing public services. Economic analysis shows this will cost around £180,000 a year over 10 years and will not only transform services for deaf children but deliver economic benefits in the region of £13 million through improved quality of life, employment prospects, and lower costs of schooling.


Auditory Verbal UK Chief Executive Anita Grover said: “Far too many deaf children in Scotland still don't have access to the early and effective support to develop language and communication needed to thrive in life. This means they face the prospect of lower academic achievement, lower employment prospects, and a higher risk of poor mental health, bullying and social exclusion.


“But it doesn’t have to be this way. When young deaf children and their families have access to effective, early support, whether their families wish to use spoken language, sign language or both, their opportunities in life can be transformed. And for those families who want their deaf child to learn to listen and speak, the specialist programme of Auditory Verbal therapy is enabling them to get an equal start at school. Urgent action is needed to increase access to Auditory Verbal for families of deaf children across Scotland.”