Members of Parliament today (Wednesday 18 October) donned loud shirts to mark the international awareness day Loud Shirt Day - challenging the perception of what deaf children can achieve 

Co-hosted by Sally-Ann Hart MP and Rosie Duffield MP, the event saw MPs meet Louis, aged 11, and Noli, 19, who are deaf and learnt to listen and talk with Auditory Verbal therapy, share their stories of how early and effective support has supported them to thrive and have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers.  

From left to right: Noli, Louis, Sally-Ann Hart MP and Anita Grover, AVUK CEO

Helen Hayes, Shadow Minister for Children & Early Years, heard from Louis and his parents about how he joined Auditory Verbal UK’s specialist family-centred programme of Auditory Verbal therapy just before he was two and graduated two years later with speaking skills ahead of that expected for a child of his age.  

Helen Hayes MP

Louis and Helen Hayes, Shadow Minister for Children & Early Years

Louis, from Cambridge, has a genetic, progressive hearing loss and was diagnosed deaf when he was 18 months old. He said: “Being deaf has never stopped me joining in with all the things my friends do. I’ve just started secondary school and really enjoying trying lots of new things but I know that lots of deaf children don’t have the chances I’ve had and this isn't fair.” 

Right now, less than 10% of deaf children in the UK, like Louis, can access Auditory Verbal therapy. AVUK’s #HearUsNow campaign is calling on the Government to support and invest in Auditory Verbal therapy so that every family who wants their deaf child to learn to listen and talk is able to access an Auditory Verbal programme through publicly funded services in their local area. 

Anita Grover, Chief Executive at Auditory Verbal UK said: “We are asking MPs to support our Hear Us Now campaign and help create a sound future for deaf children. We want to see all deaf children have the opportunity to access an Auditory Verbal therapy programme through publicly funded services close to where they live, and the public support this, with research showing 80% of adults in the UK believe it should be available via publicly funded services like the NHS*. 

“All deaf babies and children should have access to early and effective support whether their families wish for them to use sign language, spoken language or both. By ensuring deaf children have access to support during those vital early years we can significantly reduce the current disadvantage and transform outcomes for deaf children across the UK.”  

Penny Mordaunt MP

From left to right: Noli, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP and Angela, Noli's mum

Analysis shows that with an investment of just over £2 million a year, for the next 10 years, Auditory Verbal therapy can be made available as an option for deaf children across the UK, and it can unlock economic benefits of £152million, rising to £11.7billion over 50 years. 

Jack Brereton

From left to right: Noli, Louis and Jack Brereton MP

Noli, from North London, also meet MPs today and shared her story. She contracted meningitis at 18 months old and after recovering was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss caused by the infection. Noli began Auditory Verbal therapy at AVUK not long after and when she was just two and a half her speaking skills exceeded those of hearing children her age.   

Noli said: “The support my family and I had from AVUK to help me learn to listen and speak has always been central to the determination I have and belief that I can achieve anything I want to and do everything my hearing friends can. But this isn’t the case for all deaf children who should have   the same life opportunities as their hearing peers.” 

“I hope that by meeting the MPs and explaining how AVUK has been truly life transforming they will understand the urgent need for action and investment to ensure more deaf children get the same opportunities I have been fortunate to have,” she added. 

Rosie Duffield MP

Noli and Rosie Duffield MP