New research published on World Hearing Day has revealed that only 37% of adults believe a child born profoundly deaf can learn to listen and speak as well as a hearing child*.

Ariella was born deaf and at eight-weeks old was fitted with hearing aids but as she grew and showed no sign of baby babble or speaking her mum Sabrina’s concerns increased.

But after just one session with UK Charity Auditory Verbal UK Ariella’s Mum Sabrina said: “It was like the light went on. By the end of our first session at Auditory Verbal UK, Ariella had said her first word “up” and the next day she imitated making an animal sound. This was the magical moment I had been waiting for”   

Now Ariella has just turned four, and described as a “chatterbox” by her Mum. She attends mainstream nursery, wants to be a teacher, makes hearing aids for her dolls so they look like her and loves playing with her two elder sisters. Sabrina added: “Without AVUK I am not sure how Ariella’s development would have been. She loves nursery and chatters away all the time at home. It’s wonderful to hear and we continue to use the skills we’ve learnt in our sessions.”

On World Hearing Day as a YouGov survey reveals only 37% of adults believe a child born profoundly deaf can learn to speak as well as a hearing child* AVUK is calling for more deaf babies and children to be given the same chance to learn to listen and speak as Ariella.

AVUK Chief Executive Anita Grover said: “Four out of five children who spend two or more years on our programme achieve the same spoken language outcomes as typically hearing children. Most achieve this by the time they start school. But far too many families are unable to access such support and our ambition is for all families of deaf children who want their child to learn to listen and talk to be able to access an auditory verbal programme close to where they live. With 7,200 deaf children under the age of five, we are calling on the Government to make the necessary investment in the training of 300 specialist therapists across the UK, giving many more children an equal start at school.”

AVUK is the only UK charity offering a specialist parent-centred, Auditory Verbal programme aimed at helping pre-school aged deaf children to learn to listen and speak. Here you can watch and hear children speaking about their ambitions for the future.

Specialist Auditory Verbal therapists equip parents with the skills and strategies to develop their child’s listening and talking skills through play based activities.

AVUK works with families across the UK and has bases in London and Oxfordshire. It has continued supporting deaf babies, children and their families during lockdown with a switch to online platforms. Its internationally accredited training programme in Auditory Verbal practice is enabling speech and language therapists and teachers of the deaf in the NHS and Local Authority sensory services to train in this specialist approach which is part of mainstream provision in other countries. Auditory Verbal UK is working with organisations around the world to help create a sound future for deaf children.

Anita added: “The World Health Organisation report published today on World Hearing Day highlights the importance of hearing health and hearing care for all. Despite the UK having one of the best newborn hearing screening programmes in the world together with access to state of the art hearing technology, we are not yet seeing the gap closing between the achievements of deaf children and those of their hearing peers.  Early intervention is vital to ensure deaf children have the same opportunities as their hearing peers. The global pandemic has only increased the risk of them being left even further behind. Whether a family want their child to develop spoken language, use sign language or both, they need access to support in the first few years of their lives. We must have much higher expectations for what deaf children can achieve. ”

Read Ariella's story

AVUK helps over 160 deaf babies and children and their families every year. But, we need to do more. Would you consider making a donation so that we can always be there for children like Ariella? Thank you for your support. AVUK would not be the charity it is today without you.