Overcoming barriers to support more deaf children in South Africa Unlocking the communication potential of deaf children is one of the joys of Dani Schlesinger’s role as she looks forward to helping more children and families after qualifying as an LSLS CERT AVT (Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist). Dani’s qualification brings the number of LSLS Cert AVT's in South Africa to six and after working in the field of cochlear implants and hearing loss for the last 17 years she is celebrating her latest milestone. Cochlear Implant Programme Coordinator, Speech Therapist and Audiologist Dani said: “Auditory Verbal therapy and my training through AVUK has been invaluable in providing me and my team with the skills to offer family-focused, relevant intervention through telehealth as well as in person. It has also allowed us to overcome many barriers to access, including geographical distance and transport costs. As we work towards improving access to best practice intervention, my AVT training has been a valuable piece of this puzzle.” Based at The Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, Dani initially attended a training programme in 2010 supported by Warren Estabrooks. She said: “This was when I fully realised the power of family-focused intervention to build listening and language skills in children with hearing loss.” Funding for further training and mentoring with AVUK was made available from Southern ENT (Cochlear Ltd) in South Africa and Dani jumped at the chance to continue her training. Louise Ashton AVUK Training Lead and Dani’s mentor said: “I am delighted that Dani has successfully completed her certification. She is a well-respected practitioner in the CI field in South Africa and has a genuine passion and commitment to enhance outcomes for children with a hearing loss in South Africa, especially the population that does not have access to private healthcare and support. She has made incredible sacrifices to further her career and will play a vital part in taking the profession forward in South Africa and support others who wishes to train. I feel very honoured to working with her in South Africa.” Dani added: “I loved everything about the AVUK training. My next goal is to see our cochlear implant programme provide a sustainable, contextually relevant and effective service within the public sector in South Africa. This includes obtaining funding for cochlear implants as well as employing and training therapists to provide Auditory Verbal therapy." “From there, I would like to find ways to share skills and knowledge with other speech therapists across South Africa to ensure that all families of children with hearing loss are able to access high quality, evidence-based intervention. With the right support, we can ensure that families are able to make decisions for their child’s future that suit their family and unlock their child’s full potential.” Find out more about the AVUK training programme here.