01 May 2013: First Voice releases 2012 annual report
It has been a busy and an enormously gratifying year for First Voice and the annual report
provides an informative update of our many projects and activities over the past year to improve the lives of young hearing impaired children throughout the region. Read the full announcement
16 October 2012: New First Voice Chair Appointed
First Voice is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Jim Hungerford as its new Board Chair. Mr Hungerford takes over from Associate Professor Dimity Dornan AM, who has held the position for the past 18 months. Mr Hungerford is the Chief Executive Officer of The Shepherd Centre, an early intervention centre based in Sydney which has outreach centres in metropolitan Sydney and Canberra. He brings more than 30 years' experience in health sciences and senior management to the position of First Voice Chair. Read the full announcement
17 May 2012: First Voice centres selected to deliver national rural and regional hearing program
First Voice centres and Vision Australia have been selected by the Australian Government to deliver remote hearing and vision services to children in rural and remote areas under a new $4.1M government telehealth program
. Specialist services will be delivered to hearing and/or vision impaired Australians aged 0 to 18 years via video conferencing using laptops and iPads.
31 January 2012: First Voice releases annual report
First Voice has released its annual report on its first year as the national voice for listening and spoken language member organisations. First Voice has exerted a high level of influence in its first year of operation, and continues to demonstrate thought, policy, research and clinical leadership on all matters related to early childhood deafness.
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There is a mounting body of evidence to support the importance of early intervention services for permanent childhood hearing impairment.
- Deafness is the most common disability in neonates (Cole & Flexer, 2007).
- Research evidence on outcomes for children suggests entry into an effective early intervention program before 6 months of age is a key determinant of success in developing communicative competence. Effective early intervention programs for hearing impaired children invariably entail substantial resources, both human (health and education professionals) and technical (hearing aids and cochlear implants).
- Language acquisition for children occurs most naturally and prolifically between the ages 0-4, hence the need for early detection, diagnosis and intervention.
- The key to life chances and success is early childhood development. International research by Dr Fraser Mustard and The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) confirms that the first 12 months of life “ . . . set trajectories that affect health (physical and mental), learning and behavior throughout the life cycle”.
- Research confirms that brain development is closely linked with the ability to acquire spoken language. The inability to hear and listen impairs brain development and may slow intellectual development (Cole and Flexer, 2007, Kretchmer et al., 2004; Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2004).
- “Hearing Loss in babies is a neurological emergency because the time window for intervention is very limited. After birth, the brain is at its most plastic for the first 3.5 years and the plasticity decreases sharply after that point (Sharma, et al., 2002). Learning a new language after this point is very difficult. One of the most important skills for developing literacy is phonological processing and the optimal period for this skill is thought to extend from the last 6 months in utero to the first 12 months of life, so early intervention and early listening are pivotal for developing literacy, on which academic achievements are built. (Sharma, A., Dorman, M.,& Spahr, A. J. (2002c).