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About us

HI HOPES aims to foster the empowerment of the family in their home environment through the early intervention framework of care, support, information and partnership in a culturally sensitive, community based manner to allow the baby with a hearing loss, to reach her/his full potential.

Through 2-weekly visits, Interventionists and Deaf Mentors, support the family as they ask questions and need unbiased information in order for them to make informed choices based on their unique child’s hearing loss.

All our interventions are family led and as natural as possible and whenever we are able, we make use of routines and things around the house as opposed to special toys and learning times. Before leaving the home our goal is to have modelled all skills for the parents and caregivers in order to ensure that it is ultimately the family that is empowered through our early intervention.

About the HI HOPES programme

HI HOPES is the community outreach arm of the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Led by Professor Claudine Storbeck, a world specialist in Deaf Education, supported by a team of highly qualified professionals, the ground-breaking HI HOPES programme is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

Based on the Ski-Hi model of Early Intervention – a programme that has been in existence for 35 years, and is well accepted and used throughout the USA, Canada, Guam and Taipan. HI HOPES offers family-centred, home-based support and information aimed at ensuring the holistic development of the infant or young child with a hearing loss.

Our objective is simple: to give Deaf and hard of hearing babies and children every opportunity to develop normally and enjoy the same opportunities as their hearing peers.

According to international gold standards, there are various components that should be part of Family Centered Early Intervention. Holistically, if all components are in place and working collaboratively, families with deaf and hard of hearing children will have optimal support.

This visual indicates where our programme fits into this multidisciplinary approach.

Multidisciplinary approach to family centred early intervention

We provide the Home Interventionist and d/Deaf or hard of hearing mentor (d/D or HH mentor), both indicated in orange.

Our parent-led support programme, THRIVE, provides the “fellow parent” support as indicated in green. 

The long-term goal is the establishment of national screening programme for infants that will ensure hearing loss is identified early – by the age of 3 months – so that appropriate intervention and support can be put in place by the age of 6 months.

We invite you to share our vision – by joining our circle of supporters. Click here to find out how you can help. Thank you for reaching out to Deaf children.

Some background

Every day, 17 babies are born with hearing loss in South Africa and this excludes the number of children who develop hearing-loss as a result of meningitis, ear infections or ototoxic medication. The Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA) has found that even after twelve years of schooling many Deaf children are still functionally illiterate, with the general knowledge of an 8-year old hearing child and the reading level of a child in Grade 6.

In addition, 29% of babies who are born deaf or hard-of-hearing suffer from disabilities such as: visual impairment, cerebral palsy, heart and respiratory conditions and developmental delays. Research has shown that any form of barrier that impedes access to typical stimulation, will impact the infant’s ability to develop typically.

For this reason the Centre for Deaf Studies launched the HI HOPES early intervention programme to focus on the first three years of a child’s life which are the critical period for language and cognitive development.

HI HOPES was started in September 2006 as the flagship community service project of the Centre for Deaf Studies.

The Centre for Deaf Studies at Wits is dedicated first and foremost to training educators of the Deaf, research, and global partnerships aimed at setting new standards of excellence in Deaf education.

However, the need to equip parents, caregivers and guardians of Deaf and hard of hearing children with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop their children, quickly became a priority.

Using internationally recognised early intervention training and materials developed by the SKI HI Institute in Utah, USA – the HI HOPES programme was born.

From small beginnings in Gauteng, where 17 Home Interventionsits were trained initially, the programme has grown over the past 10 years to encompass five provinces. Already, over 2000 Deaf and hard of hearing children have benefited from the programme.


The Deaf Mentor Programme

The Deaf Mentor Programme is an integral part of the services we offer families.

Deaf Mentors are successful Deaf adults, hand-picked from the Deaf community. They undergo intense initial and in-service training to be able to work with families of deaf or hard of hearing babies.

Deaf Mentors provide families with language instruction, information about Deaf Culture and a link to the Deaf community. They also act as a role model, showing and teaching the family the best ways to interact with their child.

Because HI HOPES is not biased toward any means of communication, we have Deaf Mentors who can provide support in Sign Language, Total Communication, Bi-Bi, Cued Speech and Oralism.  The focus is on following the natural tendencies of the child and the choices of the family.

Families have commented on the fact that the Deaf Mentor has literally changed their lives. They show the family that being Deaf is okay. That there is a future for their child, and this is why the Deaf Mentor Programme is such an important and exciting part of HI HOPES. 

Promoting deaf awareness

The Home Interventionist Programme

This involves trained Home Interventionists preparing tailor made lessons on a fortnightly basis, for a family to which they have been assigned. The content for these lessons are based on our curriculum, whilst ensuring that the lessons are relevant to the family’s needs at the time and parent’s challenges. The lessons always have a language focus, but also include the practicalities of raising deaf children such as helping babies keep their amplification devices on, learning to listen in the unique home environment, engaging with siblings, and so much more.

Our interventionists are culturally matched to the family, so that the intimacy of working in a home environment is comfortable for everyone. Language assessments are done at regular intervals to assess progress and consequently guide the family further.

Our interventionists come from a variety of backgrounds, some are qualified as teachers, others audiologists, speech therapists, social workers and a wide variety of other vocational experiences. Families value and appreciate their interventionist’s role, of walking alongside them on their journey, in a very practical way. 


Home interventionsist training

Home interventionists in communityHome interventionists studying

Professor Claudine Storbeck: Founder and Director 

Professor Claudine StorbeckClaudine’s passion is ensuring that all children with hearing loss have equal access to education and equal opportunities to develop to their full potential. After graduating in the fields of both teaching and educational psychology, her post graduate research was in the field of Educational Linguistics and Deaf Education.

She started the Centre for Deaf Studies in the Department of Specialised Education at Witwatersrand University in 1998 and is currently the Director of the Centre.

In 2006 she established the first home based early intervention programme for families with a Deaf infant (HI HOPES) in South Africa.

Claudine is a Paul Harris Fellow, was the winner (Zone 10) and finalist in the Rotary service to humanity global awards (2006) and was Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in 1995/6. She is the current World Federation of the Deaf appointed world specialist on deafness.

Yvette Vivian: National Operations Manager

Yvette VivianYvette is part of the Gauteng mentoring team of HI HOPES. The focus of this work is to ensure that the team of Gauteng Parent Advisors are equipped to offer quality intervention services to families of deaf infants and that they are as professional and as skilled as possible, thereby offering a life line to parents as they embark on the journey of raising a child with a hearing loss.

Yvette is an experienced early interventionist with a particular focus on families and multiple disabilities in babies and young children with complex needs. She has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Intervention with an Honours Degree in Psychology. She is married to Graham and is the mother of three children.

Kerryn Arterio: Mentor and Trainer 

Kerryn has been a Home Interventionist for 10 years and is part of the Gauteng Mentoring team. She is also one of the National Trainers.

Kerryn has an Honours Degree in Deaf Education and has many years' experience in this field, with a particular interest in Early Intervention. She has been trained in early intervention for children with multiple disabilities and particularly enjoys her work in this area.

Kerryn is married and has 3 children.

Percy Nkomo: HI HOPES data manager

Percy NkomoPercy is a member of the national staff and the data manager.

She has a Diploma in Early childhood Education and Care and was a foundation phase teacher before becoming a Parent Advisor 10 years ago. Since then, she has worked with over 70 families in Gauteng, the North West and Limpopo provinces. She really is motivated when she sees positive change in the family's attitude towards their child with a hearing loss. Percy supports and mentors Parent Advisors with her years of experience in the field.

She has a 12 year old daughter and enjoys reading and cooking in her spare time.