Deaf youth worse off by $120,000 without early intervention, new data reveals

Published on: 27th October 2022

Deaf youth worse off by $120,000 without early intervention, new data reveals

You can read the suite of reports by Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia here. Summary reports are available in Auslan.

Delaying early Auslan intervention by two years costs over $120,000 over the lifetime of Deaf children, according to new research commissioned by Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia.

This latest research is part of a suite of reports titled A Culturally Affirming Way Forward which includes three key papers:

Jen Blyth, CEO of Deaf Australia, and Brett Casey, CEO of Deaf Connect, spoke to the research during a witness address at the Disability Royal Commission Public Hearing #29 on Monday, 24 October 2022.

“During the first day of the public hearing, we emphasised the value of timely early intervention services for Deaf and hard-of-hearing children,” Ms Blyth said.

“Early intervention proactively offers support to high-risk children and young people and aims to prevent adverse outcomes, including language deprivation.

“Early intervention for a Deaf child may involve exposure to Auslan education, oral-aural skills, and access to Deaf culture and community. This access may alleviate and reduce the risk of adverse outcomes.

“98% of deaf Children in Australia are born to hearing families, and it is critical that the importance of timely and well-rounded early intervention is shared with parents and that they are aware of the options available to their children.

“The report raised at the public hearing (Exploring the Benefits of Auslan in Early Intervention Approaches for Deaf Children) highlights an ideal window for first language acquisition, during which language acquisition is strongest. The report outlines cognitive, developmental, social, educational, mental and physical health benefits from the timely intervention.”

Deaf Connect CEO Brett Casey says that these benefits have real-world consequences for the future livelihood of Deaf Australians.

“The public hearing speculated what ‘could have been’ for deaf children had they been presented with early intervention strategies at the right time, but the data is clear in this regard”, Mr Casey says.

“The opportunity cost for Australian children is quantified in the report through a conservative model suggesting lifetime cost of delaying early Auslan intervention from age five to age seven is $128,245.

“The cost for an individual of delaying intervention from the first year of life rather than at the point of school commencement is between $273,782 and $367,445.

“Context for this financial impact is outlined in a further report released today ‘Establishing the Costs of Hearing Loss in Australia’ – an investigation into the personal and economic costs associated with hearing loss particularly regarding its disabling effects and productivity costs.

“Across individual financial impact, and the significant costs associated with economic productivity and quality of life the overall cost of deafness in Australia is approximately $1.784 billion.

“As the Disability Royal Commission continues to address systemic issues impacting the Deaf community these macro perspectives must be considered – showing a measurable personal and economic impact that trickles down to all Australians.”

The three key issues papers that make up ‘A Culturally Affirming Way Forward’ are available for download on the Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia websites, including summary reports available in English and Auslan.

Click here to download the Media Release


Media Opportunities:
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Deaf Connect offer interpreting services for Auslan representation across all media.

Interviews and comment are available from Mr Brett Casey, CEO Deaf Connect and Jen Blyth, CEO Deaf Australia.

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