Whilst some deaf children will learn spoken language, sign supported spoken language, British Sign Language or both, most of the public do not believe that a child who is born profoundly deaf could learn to speak as well as a hearing child.

A YouGov* survey commissioned for Deaf Awareness Week (May 2nd to 9th) by AVUK revealed that more than a third (35%) of adults have no idea that a child born profoundly deaf can learn to speak as well as a hearing child. And more than a quarter (27%) believe a child born profoundly deaf cannot learn to speak as well as a hearing child.

This is in stark comparison to figures which show that deaf children have achieved an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE for at least the last five years.

Eleven-year-old David Tiselita was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at two weeks old after failing his newborn hearing test.

Now as he prepares to start mainstream secondary school, David speaks not one but two languages fluently and has many dreams and aspirations which his Mum credits with the work and support of AVUK.

Mum Irina said: “David is a very popular and sociable 11-year-old with language skills in both English and Romanian. He spends the summer holidays in Romania, where his grandparents live and speaks solely Romanian. People there are always impressed with his ability to speak both languages and switch from one language to the other.”

AVUK Chief Executive Anita Grover said: “At AVUK, we want to see a world where all deaf children have the same opportunities in life as hearing children. There are approximately 7,200 deaf children under the age of five in the UK who currently face the prospect of lower academic achievement, lower employment, and are at higher risk of poor mental health, bullying and social exclusion. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When children and families have access to effective, early support, deaf children can get an equal start at school and opportunities are transformed.  This is critically important whether a child uses spoken language, sign supported spoken language, British Sign Language or both. There is not one approach that works for all families of deaf children.”

Central to AVUK’s vision is for all deaf children to have early access to support which is right for them and its #HearUsNow campaign is calling on the Government to make an investment of £21.5m over the next 10 years, so that we can provide a sound future for deaf children and unlock an economic benefit of £152m, rising to £11.7billion over 50 years.

Anita added: “Early support should be available for all deaf children whether their parents choose to communicate with spoken language, sign language or a combination. We want to enable all families who wish their child to develop spoken language to have the opportunity to access an Auditory Verbal programme through publicly funded services. To do that we need to expand the number of specialist Auditory Verbal therapists working in the NHS and local services.”

The Deaf Awareness Week YouGov survey also revealed that only 3% of adults believed speaking was the most common form of communication for a child born deaf in the UK today.

Irina explained: “We were concerned about David learning to listen and speak full stop and worried that trying to teach a deaf child two languages was just not doable, but AVUK not only made us believe it was possible but proved it was possible.

“We are so proud of him. His teachers say that in school he is always engaged and confident to ask questions and seeks answers to clarify. He is a valued member of his class and children look up to him. He loves his little sister, has a great sense of humour and has big dreams and aspirations.”

Read more about David's story.