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Getting it right from the start: Improving early years support for deaf children in Scotland

There are as many as 3850 deaf children in Scotland today and we believe that, with the right support and early identification, they can achieve anything other children can achieve.

In 2005 the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening programme was introduced in Scotland. This was a turning point in the early identification of deaf babies and over the last decade thousands of children and their families have benefitted. The early identification of deafness, and the right support from the start, can help deaf children access their rights, build confidence and increase the capacity of parents and carers to help children achieve their full potential in life.

In Scotland, the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act (2015), Getting It Right for Every Child and a strong attainment agenda all have the potential to drive positive outcomes for deaf children and their families. While this progress should be celebrated, there is still much work to be done to ensure that every deaf child in Scotland gets the support they need from birth.

In this report we will outline some of the opportunities that exist to build on this progress and bring about real change. In particular we are calling for continued investment into crucial services and a consistent multi-sector approach to delivering early years support for deaf children.

We use the term deaf to refer to all types of hearing loss from mild to profound. This includes deafness in one ear or temporary deafness such as glue ear.