The newborn hearing screening service at East Kent Hospitals is 20 years old this week – and two of the screeners have been there since the very beginninghere is just one of the stories which highlights their work

A senior member of staff in a school with a specialist unit for deaf children, mum Toniann Braniff had no concerns ahead of her daughter’s new-born hearing screening test. In fact, she welcomed it, as she knows how important early detection is to give children with hearing impairments the best start in life.

And although Audrey was not found to have any hearing loss during the screening shortly after her birth in September, Toniann still uses British Sign Language (BSL) to help her communicate before she is able to speak.

She said: “I knew even if the screening identified that Audrey had a hearing loss, she would be okay.

“If she had been deaf or had any impairment, I knew it would not be a hindrance to her in anything she wanted to do.

“The screening itself was a really positive experience and the team were lovely and quick to put me at ease.” 

The newborn hearing screening service at East Kent Hospitals is celebrating 20 years in May, with 135,000 babies screened in that time. Almost 220 referred for further testing were found to have a permanent childhood hearing impairment, and have gone on to receive intervention and support.

Toniann, 34, said:

“At work I see the progress children make with the right support and intervention.

“If a child doesn’t get a hearing aid until later, when they start school, you can see the difference in their language development.

“Having the screening test done as a newborn helps pick up hearing loss at the earliest possible stage so interventions can also start early.

“Public awareness of hearing loss is increasing all the time, which is hugely positive, and I am delighted there is now a GCSE in BSL; I’ve really enjoyed using it with Audrey and I hope it’s something she will keep up as she gets older.”

By Ed

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