BLACKBURN with Darwen Council is among the one in three local authorities that don’t provide vital technology for young deaf children to use at home and it’s leaving many of them facing a daily battle to hear their family and friends, the National Deaf Children’s Society has warned.

Figures from the charity reveal that Blackburn with Darwen is one of 43 councils in England that don’t provide radio aids for 0-4 year-olds to take home.

But council bosses say the provide specialist teachers to work with the 156 children in the borough identified as having a hearing impairment at home and in school.

Radio aids, which transmit the wearer’s voice directly to a child’s hearing aids or cochlear implants, are crucial in enabling deaf children to develop their language, confidence and communication skills from a young age.

The NDCS says if children don’t gain these skills early on, they face a lifetime of playing catch-up and a greater risk of isolation as they struggle to understand what’s happening around them.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says it is deeply unfair that thousands of children are still missing out because of where they live, describing it as a “tragic waste of potential.”

The council, though, says children who use radio aids must have a hearing aid and there are just 13 0-4 year olds in the borough with them.

The situation is improving nationally, with the number of councils that do provide them reaching 109 (72%), up from 77 (51%) in 2016.

Jo Campion, Deputy Director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “These figures show that young deaf children across Blackburn and Darwen are being thrown into a radio aid lottery, where their chances of having one at home are based on their postcode, not on their needs. It’s a tragic waste of potential and it’s deeply unfair.

“Radio aids play an absolutely essential role in young deaf children’s lives at a stage when communication, language and interacting with their family and friends are vital. They boost a child’s chances of picking up language, reduce the effect of background noise and help in situations where face-to-face conversations are difficult, like playing outside or travelling in the car.

“Every council has a duty to provide this life-changing support and Blackburn with Darwen Council now has a simple choice; deliver for every deaf child in its care, or stand by and let even more of them needlessly fall behind.”

A council spokesman said: "Blackburn with Darwen Council does provide specialist equipment for children with hearing impairments to ensure they can access and fully participate in education. "We also provide two specialist resourced provisions for children with hearing impairments for primary and secondary aged children."

Jayne Ivory, director of children’s, young people and education, added: “We have looked at this report and we are working with our colleagues at the CCG to look at new ways in which we can work better to jointly deliver services for children with additional needs and disabilities.”