Hearing impaired children graduate from early intervention program - Education Matters Magazine

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Hearing impaired children graduate from early intervention program

A total of 44 students with hearing loss from across New South Wales, the ACT and Tasmania have celebrated a major milestone, graduating from The Shepherd Centre’s Early Intervention Program.

Several of these children attended a ceremony at Cochlear Australia on 15 November. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian spoke at the ceremony and presented the young graduates with their certificates.

Based in New South Wales, The Shepherd Centre is a not-for-profit organisation specialising in early intervention to help children with hearing loss develop spoken language skills.

It aims to help young children with hearing loss to overcome barriers, with the majority of its graduates going on to commence mainstream school.

Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, said he was delighted to see so many students setting off to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams – something all children deserve regardless of disability.

“We are proud to be celebrating our graduates who are a living proof of the power of early intervention support. These children have outstanding speech, listening and language skills and have overcome many obstacles. Many people don’t realise the bright future possible for children with hearing loss, but we know our graduates are set to challenge these misconceptions as they continue on to great things,” said Dr Hungerford.

The Shepherd Centre points to research that identifies that deafness is the most common disability among children in the western world. In Australia, the incidence rate rises from one in every 1000 babies at birth to one in 300 children by school age (due to acquired and developing hearing loss).

The Shepherd Centre relies heavily on fundraising and donations to support over 500 Australian families who turn to the organisation for assistance each year. The services cost nearly $20,000 per year per child and funds donated help to provide deaf and hearing impaired children with access to the organisation’s early intervention services.

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