AVUK Chief Executive  Anita Grover, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that the UK Government has again missed an opportunity – perhaps the last one before the general election - to invest in vital support for deaf children. 

“Deaf children currently face a lifetime of disadvantage without access to early support to develop the language and communication skills needed to thrive at school and beyond, and urgent action is needed.

“Early and effective support should be available for all deaf children whether their families wish to use spoken language, sign language, or both. And for those families who want their deaf child to learn to listen and talk, Auditory Verbal therapy is a robust, evidence-based approach which is delivering consistent results, transforming lives and can deliver significant economic benefits.”

The UK has one of the best Newborn Hearing Screening Programmes in the world which enables early identification of hearing loss and also has access to state-of-the-art hearing technology, like hearing aids and cochlear implants, on the NHS and public services. But deaf children are not reaching their full potential and we are not currently maximising the investment being made in screening and technology.  

Analysis shows that last year only 38% of deaf children in England completed their first year of school having achieved expected levels of development (early learning goals), compared with 66% of all children.

Auditory Verbal therapy is a family-centred approach which supports deaf children to learn how to make sense of the sound they receive through their hearing technology and develop their spoken language so they can talk like their hearing peers. Around 80% of deaf children who attend an Auditory Verbal therapy programme for at least two years achieve the same level of spoken language as their hearing peers. The majority are achieving educational outcomes on a par with hearing children.

However, currently less than 10% of deaf children in the UK who could benefit from the specialist programme can access it.

An investment of just over £2 million a year for the next decade will not only enable all deaf children under five in the UK the opportunity to access Auditory Verbal therapy, but will also unlock £152 million of economic benefits, rising to £11.7 billion over 50 years through improved quality of live and savings for the NHS, social services, mental health support services, employment services and more. 

Bea Cadman (20) was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a baby. She is now studying to become a midwife at university. She explained: “Auditory Verbal therapy not only enabled me to learn to listen and talk and attend mainstream education but also encouraged both me and my family to have high aspirations and believe I could achieve the same things as my hearing friends.

“I have always wanted to be a midwife and it is thanks to Auditory Verbal therapy when I was younger that I am now following my passion and delivering babies. All deaf children should have the option to access this specialist programme because it is truly, truly life changing.”