The future is hear and full of possibility for the 3.6 million Australians impacted by hearing loss – with national not-for-profit alliance First Voice challenging Australian parents to listen to the outcomes possible for kids who are deaf or hard of hearing this Hearing Awareness Week (1 – 7 March).
With decades of providing world-leading early intervention services, First Voice and its respective centres across the country are urging Australian families to understand the options available for children with hearing loss today.
Despite the fact that children born deaf in Australia can learn to hear, listen and speak just like a child with typical hearing, 94 per cent of Australians are unaware of this life-changing reality and 84 per cent of Australians don’t know where to turn to for support if their child is born with or develops hearing loss.
First Voice Chair and Director, and Telethon Speech & Hearing CEO Mark Fitzpatrick, says he is on a mission to educate Australians to know that with timely and effective interventions, a life of hearing, listening and speaking is possible for kids who are deaf in 2022.
“For parents, a hearing loss diagnosis can be full of unknowns and uncertainties about the future, so it is critical that we educate them on the options available to encourage informed decisions that can enable their child to embrace a world of sound,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.
“Over 99% of Australians have an oral language – and many families who have a child with a hearing loss want their kids to have the same opportunities as any other child their age.
“We know that children with hearing loss who receive listening and spoken language therapy and hearing technology, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids, have the potential to develop speech and language skills at the same level as their typical hearing siblings and peers.
“With the number of Australians with hearing loss only set to double by 2060, now is the time to make some noise on the life-changing possibilities that early interventions can enable those who are deaf,” he added.
Perth mum, Rachel was completely shocked when her six-month old son, Leon was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss in his left ear and profound hearing loss in his right, picked up during a routine check-up in 2009.
Now a burgeoning teenager tackling his second year of high school, Leon has since received cochlear implants in both ears and been supported by WA First Voice centre, Telethon Speech & Hearing, enabling him to become the socially confident and academically sound youth he is today.
“Since his diagnosis, Telethon Speech & Hearing has positively impacted Leon and our family – from parent education around hearing loss so we could make informed decisions at every stage, to tailored listening and spoken language therapy and in-school support from a multidisciplinary team,” said Rachel.
“His use of language and vocabulary is continually expanding, and his voice is clear and concise. Leon’s progress has been phenomenal, and we can see a very positive and successful future ahead of him.”
From the family’s experience with hearing loss, Rachel hopes all young children achieve the same incredible hearing, listening and speaking outcomes that her son Leon holds today.
“It can be daunting for any parent to navigate the unexpected, which is why it’s so important that parents have their child’s hearing assessed early and re-checked regularly to ensure that hearing loss is never undetected for too long,” said Rachel.
“Early intervention is the key to success and Hearing Awareness Week is the perfect time to address any concerns.”
This Hearing Awareness Week, First Voice challenge the public to increase their understanding on how recent advances in technology, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids, are drastically reshaping outcomes for Australians with hearing loss.
The intervention services and support provided by First Voice centres across the country is opening worlds and giving children the ultimate gift – the ability to hear their parents voice for the first time, share laughter with friends, the power to communicate without restraint, and the ability to enjoy a world full of joy and colour.
About First Voice
First Voice and their respective centres across Australia (and International affiliates in NZ, UK and South Africa) provide world-class early intervention services to give children born deaf or hard of hearing the listening and spoken language skills to reach their full potential. Learn more at firstvoice.org.au.
- Telethon Speech & Hearing (Western Australia)
- Hear and Say (Queensland)
- The Shepherd Centre (New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory & Tasmania)
- NextSense (formerly RIDBC / Taralye) (Victoria)
- Can:Do4Kids, Townsend House (South Australia)