UCL Psychology and Language Sciences



An overview of the issues in current practice with very young deaf children with cochlear implants (CI) to include:

  •   the importance of integrated multi-disciplinary working and

  • factors influencing the effective support of the families of children with CI

Judy Halden, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist with Deaf People, Teacher of the Deaf, Honorary Research Associate, UCL
Julia Divers, Teacher of the Deaf, Honorary Research Associate, UCL


This presentation outlines and explores a series of issues experienced by practitioners as a result of working with very young deaf children and their families, both before and after cochlear implantation. The issues, which are considered by some professionals as presenting an obstacle to effective support, are made explicit and centre upon:

  • The importance of integrated multi-disciplinary working in supporting families;
  • The Early Support Monitoring protocol for deaf babies and children and its limitations;
  • Advice to parents regarding signing/lip reading, pre and post implantation;
  • Strategies that professionals  encourage parents to use to promote language development and methods used to encourage these strategies;
  • Strategies that are used to encourage deaf children’s access to incidental language;
  • Advice to parents regarding the use of the home language and factors influencing this decision;
  • Variation in practice dependent upon the cultural background of the family.

The issues are expanded upon, supported by data collected from an open questionnaire, in order to give voice to the challenges some professionals have encountered when supporting the families of very young children. We consider their impact on practice, on the children and their families and raise a series of questions intended to provide the opportunity for practitioners to begin to determine how these issues can be addressed (in the light of current research in order to support evidence based practice).

Link to slides

  • ARCHBOLD, S. (2003) Paediatric Cochlear Implantation: the effects of early identification and implantation, Proceedings of course for teachers of the deaf, Hertfordshire Teachers’ Centre, 20th May 2003. Nottingham: Paediatric Cochlear Implant Centre, pp. 9-10.
  • ATKINSON, M., WILKIN, A., STOTT, A. and KINDER, K. (2001) Multi-agency working: an audit of activity. Berkshire: National Foundation for Education Research (NFER).
  • BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS OF THE DEAF (BATOD) & ROYAL COLLEGE OF SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPISTS (RCSLT) (2007) Collaborative working between Speech and Language Therapists and Teachers of the Deaf. Beverley: BATOD
  • DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION AND SKILLS (DfES) (2006) The Monitoring Protocol for deaf babies and children: How to use this protocol. London: HMSO
  • NATIONAL DEAF CHILDREN’S SOCIETY (NDCS) (2008) Deaf Children and Cochlear Implants. London: NDCS
  • NATIONAL DEAF CHILDREN’S SOCIETY (NDCS) (2005) Parenting a deaf child – Parenting tips. London: NDCS
  • NATIONAL DEAF CHILDREN’S SOCIETY (NDCS) (2002) Quality Standards in the Early Years: Guidelines on working with deaf children under two years old and their families. London: NDCS
  • ROBBINS, A.N., et al (2000) Language Development in Profoundly Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants. Psychological Science, March 2000 11: pp. 153-158
  • ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE for DEAF PEOPLE (RNID) (2001) Effective early intervention for deaf children 0-5 and their families. London: RNID.
  • UUS, K. MD, PHD and BAMFORD, J., PHD (2006) Effectiveness of Population-Based Newborn Hearing Screening in England: Ages of Interventions and Profile of Cases. Pediatrics, (May), pp. e887–e893.

See also

  • MARSCHARK, M. and SPENCER, P. E. (2010) (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language and Education, Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press.