University of Edinburgh

Language and Deaf Education: Into the 21st Century

March, 2006

Alys Young -

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening – Language Issues


The 'True Case Study' formed part of the national evaluation of phase one of the implementation of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) in England. As an in-depth qualitative interview study of 45 parents of 27 children who had been early identified, it examined through parents’ own narratives their experience of screening, early diagnosis, early intervention and impact on family life. Interviews were conducted at between 8 and 51 weeks (average = 25 weeks) following confirmation of deafness and so give us insight into some of parents' earliest attempts to come to terms with what has happened to them and to make sense of deafness in the context of knowing very early that their baby is deaf. In this presentation, results will be discussed from the segment of data that focused on how parents talked about deafness, language and communication. In particular it will concentrate on the assumptions and expectations they had of the impact of 'knowing early' on: how their child would develop and progress; the role of early intervention; the likely effects on parent-child relationships within the family. Close attention will be paid to differences as well as similarities in parents' descriptions to begin to understand the range of factors that might distinguish variations in parents’ responses post screening.

Collaborators in this study:  Helen Tattersall; Wendy McCracken (both University of Manchester).