Deafness is not a learning disability, as the NDCS routinely reminds us. However, the UK’s education system is not ‘failing’ children who are deaf, as this headline suggests. Rather, the infants’ education begins at home with their families, once their hearing difficulties are confirmed with a diagnosis and hearing-devices ideally accessed at the earliest opportunity.
Children Born After 2006 Accessed UNHS
The UK introduced newborn hearing tests (UNHS) only in 2006. What does this mean? Children over eight years old, probably did not have this hearing test – missing out on their vital, incidental overhearing of early-years spoken language with digital hearing devices.
Some children never close their resulting language gap, and it’s these children that need most help in school, as the NDCS notes. Prevention is the best response. What can we do?
Critical success factors for deaf children, noted by the University of Edinburgh:
- Early detection of hearing issues (at, or near birth).
- Sustained parental spoken language teaching from infancy.
- Monitoring of school results.
- Teen exposure to real-world work experience, job interviews and teamwork.
The right support from infancy gives deaf pupils the means to succeed, with the UK’s graduate labour market trends showing similar outcomes for hearing and deaf students.
Bilateral Cochlear Implants Catalysing Change
Preschools in the US teach deaf children auditory-verbal (oral only) or total communication strategies. The videos here, show children at oral preschools, learning to hear and talk: this shift in demographics is also occurring in the UK among younger children.
What Does The Future Look Like?
With children accessing newborn hearing tests and receiving hearing aids and bilateral cochlear implants from an ever-earlier age, the future looks very bright. This video from Voice For Deaf Kids in Canada, says everything about possibilities for today’s kids, who will need less help in school, due to growing up with more hearing and independence.