With one in every 1000 Australian babies born deaf and three in every 1000 children diagnosed with significant hearing loss by the time they reach high school, deafness is the most common disability amongst children in the western world.
Today, The Shepherd Centre in conjunction with First Voice (the Australian and New Zealand alliance providing listening and spoken language to hearing-impaired children) is calling on Australians everywhere to take part in its annual fundraiser, Loud Shirt Day, helping raise much-needed funds for its nationally-renowned program assisting deaf kids.
The impact can be substantial emotionally as well as financially. Many people don’t realise that it costs more than $18,000 per year, per child to provide these critical early intervention services. Ninety two percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, highlighting just how unexpected a diagnosis of hearing loss can be for Australian families.
With the help of early detection and the early intervention support provided by The Shepherd Centre, more deaf and hearing-impaired Australian children than ever before are learning to listen and speak as well as their hearing peers. They are attending mainstream primary schools, high schools and universities – and achieving educational, social and workforce successes. Achieving their full potential is something all children deserve regardless of disability.
The Shepherd Centre, a NSW-based children’s charity is one of Australia’s leading providers of speech and language services for children with hearing loss. Typically, more than 90 per cent of children graduating from the organisation’s world-leading program achieve spoken language at the same level as normal-hearing children by the time they are ready for school.
Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, said that the initiative is the perfect excuse to leave behind boring business attire in the name of charity.
“We rely heavily on generous donations and public support to be able to continue providing these essential support services for Australian families. We know that for every family we do help, there is another who is currently not receiving support. We are counting on our community to help us change the futures of all children with hearing loss.
“Whether it’s in the workplace, at school, or hosting an event at home, our message is simple: dress loud. Grab your brightest and silliest shirts, socks, dresses, even hats and help us give the gift of sound to kids who need it,” said Hungerford.