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January 11, 2005

Deaf Jodie's joy in a new world of sounds

From: Leeds Today, UK - Jan 11, 2005


MOST parents long to hear their child's first words ... but for Phil and Jo Ounsley the moment was extra special.

When daughter Jodie was just two months old, they were told there was a chance she would never be able to speak and she was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf.

Now Jodie, who is four on Monday is just like any other child her age ... complete with a full and active vocal ability to express her wishes and desires.

Proud dad Phil, 35, of Dewsbury, says his little girl is extremely bright: "Her first word was 'papa' and it was extra special for us. You would never know that she is deaf. She is talking away and at the same level as her friends.

"She is coping really well. At just two months old she failed the routine hearing screening they were doing at Dewsbury Hospital. At the time, we were in shock and we knew nothing about being deaf or how to cope with it. We were told it was possible she may never speak.

"We want to reassure other parents that it is not the end of the world if your child is deaf and there is wonderful support out there."

Jodie was suitable for a cochlea implant and now has an electronic ear which gives a hearing sensation.

Through the internet, the Ounsleys came across the Elizabeth Foundation, a charity based in Bradford, which runs a baby and pre-school programme for deaf children aged up to five years. They also provide support and training for parents.

Jodie now attends a mainstream nursery and will start school full time next year. She attends the Elizabeth Foundation twice a week. The charity encourages the development of speech and language by using all the senses, in a fun and child centered way. There is also a programme which uses music's pitch and rhythm to help develop good speech.

Phil, a police officer in Huddersfield will be doing a sponsored row on Lake Windermere this year for the fourth time. Each time has brought in at least £4,000 but he says it is a pleasure to raise money for the Elizabeth Foundation: "They are a charity and it costs an awful lot of money to give the education to a child who is deaf."

Mum Jo, who gave up work to care for Jodie and help develop her speech and language, says the cochlea implant, part of which is implanted into her skull, is an electronic ear .

"It is not a hearing aid which amplifies sound. It is intended so a child who is deaf can copy the sounds and words which are there. Not all children are suitable for a cochlea implant, so we are thankful that Jodie was suited to it."

Phil said it was amazing how Jodie used all her other senses such as seeing shadows, feeling vibrations and sensing what was happening in order to understand what was going on.

Severe hearing loss affects one in 1,000 babies, with many more affected by mild to moderate hearing loss.

• The Elizabeth Foundation is on 01274 382282 or at

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