The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

UNHS explained

Update on Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening (UNHS)

Notes from Professor John Bamford’s talk at the Heads’ Conference in Hull, November 2000

The University of Manchester is carrying out a study of the quality of service provision in audiology and preschool education services for deaf children in the UK. The criteria for comparisons will be to use the PASI (Paediatric Audiology Service Index) and DEESI (Deaf Education Early Service Index) with scores out of 100 (highest quality).

UNHS Pilot 20 Health Authorities will be piloting the introduction of UNHS from March 2001.

The objective is to identify Best Practice for the implementation of UNHS for newborns before hospital discharge or as soon as possible after.

The Health Visitor’s Distraction Test (HVDT) will continue for the interim and gradually be phased out.

Audiology Services will need to be developed to meet the needs of the very young.

Education and Social Services will need to be involved according to family-friendly service principles.

Evaluation will include:

  • training for UNHS including screening, follow up, co-ordination, database use, early family support etc
  • the costs of UNHS
  • IT systems including reliability, flexibility, user friendliness, fitness for purpose
  • parental compliance (willingness of parents to take part)
  • parental/maternal anxiety (for different social/cultural groups)
  • impact on audiology and education services eg staffing, training, equipment etc.
  • impact of HVDT phase out for health visitors and parents
  • the screen itself eg coverage, refer rates, time taken, call back rates, false positive rates, recruitment, staffing etc.
  • HVDT coverage, refer rates and compliance with quality assurance markers
  • follow up, identification, diagnosis of hearing levels, time taken to fit hearing aids, time taken to set up educational support and intervention
  • compliance with quality assurance markers

The following have to be considered:

  • identification is at a highly sensitive time, often without prior suspicion
  • support workers will need specialist skills and knowledge (see NDCS/RNID recommendations)
  • training issues for audiological assessment and fitting of appropriate hearing aids
  • what parents want (viewed in retrospect of those who have ‘been through the system’).

    BATOD Magazine, January 2001