Early Intervention or Early Interference?

This conference and its wealth of presentations demonstrates the huge development in the practice of newborn hearing screening and what we have learnt over the years. However, some things remain the same.  Newborn hearing screening means that the diagnosis of deafness often now takes place in the first few weeks of a child’s life and with over 95% of deaf children born to hearing parents, is usually unexpected. Suddenly parents are plunged into a world previously unknown to them, with many professionals taking a role in their lives at a time when they may be confused and vulnerable.  We know that these early days are crucial to the development of early communication skills, the pre-cursors of language, and the parents’ role is crucial. Parents need to be relaxed communicators with their infants to ensure this development, but for hearing parents of deaf children this can be challenging. Parents have a great deal to manage, including the intrusion of professionals and sophisticated technology into their lives, while providing a rich language environment. This presentation will consider these issues, and what we can learn from parents about how professionals can best support families at this time.



Dr Sue Archbold was the teacher of the deaf of the first child in the UK to have a cochlear implant. She then helped establish The Ear Foundation to fund the first paediatric cochlear implants in the UK, and went on to co-ordinate the Nottingham Paediatric Cochlear Implant Programme from its inception in 1989 until 2004. The programme rapidly became one of the biggest in the world, and there she developed methods of assessing and monitoring young children for implantation and a database to manage a cochlear implant programme. She helped establish quality standards for ci programmes and to influence the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). She has published widely on the education of deaf children and on outcomes from implantation, and received her doctorate from the University of Nijmegen, cum laude, on the subject of Deaf Education: changed by cochlear implantation?

She was Chief Executive of The Ear Foundation from 2008 to 2016, leading its programme of support, information, education and research to ensure the maximum benefit from the latest hearing technologies at home, school and work, and now retains an advisory role there.

Sue is committed to working to raise awareness of the impact of hearing loss in both children and in adults and for access to today’s hearing technologies and support services for all who need them.

Sue has published widely on issues associated with language acquisition, and education for deaf and hard of hearing children. Her work has considered parental perspectives, child perspectives and the long-term developmental and educational outcomes of cochlear implantation. She has a particular interest in counselling related to audiological issues and has most recently been involved in advocacy around hearing screening.  Together with Brian Lamb she was the author of the recent (2016) UK report on hearing screening titled ‘Adult Screening: Can we afford to wait any longer’.