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Communication Choices

Communication Choices

Cued Speech

Cued speech helps deaf people see what you’re saying. It’s a manual system of 8 handshapes in 4 positions near the mouth which completely clarify the lip-patterns of your speech and it is quick and comparatively easy to learn. It turns your spoken language (English and many other languages) into a visual language. Research shows that with Cued Speech 96% of English can be accurately lip-read. You can help your deaf baby or child see the whole of the English language as clearly as hearing people can hear it.

British Sign Language

Sign Language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language. Sign Language is used mainly by people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments. BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE (BSL) Within Britain the most common form of Sign Language is called British Sign Language (BSL). BSL has its own grammatical structure and syntax, as a language it is not dependant nor is it strongly related to spoken English. BSL is the preferred language of around 145,000 people within the UK (2011).

Auditory Verbal

Auditory Verbal therapy is an evidence-based, family-centred, coaching programme which equips parents and caregivers with the tools to support the development of their deaf child’s spoken language through listening. Auditory Verbal therapy is one of the options for families of deaf children. It supports deaf children to learn how to make sense of the sound they receive through their hearing technology (such as hearing aids or cochlear implants) and develop spoken language so they can learn to talk like their hearing friends. How does it work? By supporting and coaching parents and caregivers with strategies to stimulate pathways in the brain, their child’s listening and spoken language is developed through play-based activities that can be used in everyday routines and life. It is continually tailored to the family based on formal and informal assessments that allow for progress to be monitored and evaluated in a way that is meaningful for the family. It is most effective when it is begun early, and parents and caregivers are supported in the approach as soon as possible (Fulcher A. et al., 2012). Who delivers it? Auditory Verbal therapy is delivered by a specialist Auditory Verbal Therapist who is a qualified teacher of the deaf, speech and language therapist or audiologist who has undergone a minimum of three years of additional post-graduate training to become a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Auditory Verbal Therapist (LSLS Cert AVT or LSLS Cert AVEd). What are the benefits? International research has shown that 89% of children with hearing loss graduating from Auditory Verbal therapy programmes demonstrated language skills on par with their hearing peers (Sound Outcomes, 2021). In the UK as many as 80% of deaf children who spent two or more years on an Auditory Verbal therapy programme achieved age-appropriate language skills. This rose to 97% of children without additional needs (Hitchins, A.R. & Hogan, S.C., 2018). The majority attend mainstream schools and are attaining educational outcomes on a par with hearing children (Hogan, S., 2022). How can families access AV therapy? Unfortunately, Auditory Verbal therapy is not universally available across the UK through publicly funded services, and there is currently limited access. Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) – an award-winning charity that wants all deaf children to have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers – provides Auditory Verbal therapy direct to families in person, online via telepractice, or through a combination of both in person and online sessions. AVUK offer subsidised access to its family programme with a bursary scheme. To find out more about AV therapy and AVUK you can register for free online ‘Meet an Auditory Verbal Therapists’ sessions. These webinars are specifically tailored for families to find out more about Auditory Verbal therapy and if it is right for their child. To find out more complete AVUK’s enquiry form or call 01869 325000. AVUK is working to raise expectations and outcomes for deaf children and increase access to, as well as awareness and understanding of, Auditory Verbal therapy so that all deaf children have the opportunity to access it through publicly funded services close to where they live. Do you have more questions about Auditory Verbal therapy? Visit AVUK’s FAQs:

Elizabeth Foundation

The Elizabeth Foundation aim to help young children with all degrees of deafness learn to listen and talk. In this video they talk to Evelyn Glennie about her experience of deafness. We are proud to have Evelyn as one of our Patrons.


Makaton is a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. It supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention and listening, comprehension, memory, recall and organisation of language and expression. Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life. Almost everything we do involves communication; everyday tasks such as learning at school, asking for food and drink, sorting out problems, making friends and having fun. These all rely on our ability to communicate with each other. With Makaton, signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign. For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. This opens up all kinds of possibilities. In the following video from CBeebies, parents of children who use Makaton explain how it has helped them communicate. And Makaton Tutor Kate Duggan explains how Makaton is beneficial for children (and adults) of all ages and abilities.

Sign Supported Language

SSE is a way of speaking and signing at the same time, using BSL signs for key words while speaking English. When signing SSE, you don't need to sign every word. SSE can be useful to support lip-reading for deaf people whose first language is English, or to teach English to people whose first language is BSL. It can also be useful when communicating informally with a group of people who use both BSL and English. However, many BSL users find SSE hard to follow.

Lip Reading

Lip reading is a vital communication skill for many people with hearing loss. It’s the ability to recognise the lip shapes, gestures, and facial movements of a person when they are speaking, to gain a better understanding of what they are saying. We all lip read and watch a person’s facial expressions without realising it, especially in noisy situations. Becoming a good lip reader requires skill, concentration, and a great deal of practice. Many words look similar on the lips, it’s easy to mistake ‘biscuits’ for ‘big kiss’ for example. A good lip reading teacher will help you to tell the differences between words.

Cochlear Implants

Gavin Morrison (MA FRCS) Consultant Paediatric Otolaryngologist – Ear Nose & Throat Surgeon, describes the basics of cochlear implants

Description of a Cochlear Implant

Gavin Morrison (MA FRCS) Consultant Paediatric Otolaryngologist – Ear Nose & Throat Surgeon, describes the basics of cochlear implants

Cognitive load and deafness

Dr Helen Willis - Wellness Coach, Cognitive Neuroscientist, Oxford University, PhD - describes an important issue deaf children are coping with

What about the future?  DCUK and Robotic

Literacy skills are critical for well-being and for a healthy mind. We develop these skills from infancy. Children who do not acquire these skills when they are young will struggle to keep up. 90% of Deaf children are members of hearing families, including 33,000 families in the UK. They need to see the spoken language to develop these skills naturally. Advances in technology will help people to find a new voice, with language assistants who speak visually. Robotica have partnered with Deaf Choices UK to deliver digital communications assistants to facilitate effective communication between speaking and non-hearing people..

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