In Scotland, most new parents have the opportunity to have their baby’s hearing checked in the first few weeks after birth. SCoD acknowledges that there may be benefits of early diagnosis particularly for the child’s language development.
Scottish Council on Deafness recommends:
1. Equality Impact Assessments1 should be carried out to ensure that the needs of deaf people are taken into consideration when putting screening programmes in place
2. Parents should be given as much information as possible, in accessible formats,2 in order to make an informed choice3 about whether or not to have their baby screened for hearing loss. Staff should be on hand to spend time with parents and answer any questions they might have. It is important that the information that parents receive is balanced and should not show bias towards the medical model of disability and deafness or to a specific linguistic model. If parents decide not to have their baby screened, then they should be
provided with information on where to access support and possible help in the future.
3. The best methods for screening babies should be used and staff should have the appropriate training and skills to carry out the screening.
4. The parents of babies diagnosed as having a hearing loss should be given the opportunity to meet with health professionals and other parents, including Deaf parents, before they decide whether or not their baby has hearing aids fitted or is considered for a cochlear implant. Health professionals have a duty to inform parents of the pros and cons of cochlear implants and the operation to fit them.
5. Parents should be given the contact details of organisations that provide support and information on hearing loss and how it can affect a baby/child.
6. Babies diagnosed as having a hearing loss should receive thorough multidisciplinary assessments as soon as possible.
7. Parents and family members of babies diagnosed as having a hearing loss should have access to appropriate support and counselling.
8. Parents of babies who have been diagnosed as having a hearing loss should also be referred, as and when appropriate, to local and national support services including Audiology and ENT Services, Social Services, Education Services, Speech & Language Therapists as well as the relevant deaf organisations.
9. All staff involved in Newborn Hearing Screening should receive accredited deaf awareness4 and communication skills training as well as training in supporting parents who have a baby with a hearing loss. They should be aware of all the relevant information that parents and other family members may need including the legislation on parental leave and how to apply for financial support.
For further information, please visit: www.nhsinform.co.uk/screening
1 More detail in our Information Sheet on Terminology
2 See our Position Statement entitled Access to Information and our Information Sheet on Accessible Information
3 Further information in our Position Statement – Informed Consent for Adults
4 See our Information Sheet on Deaf Awareness Training