Pathways to early language


With early hearing screening, children with severe-profound hearing impairment are now being fitted with cochlear implants at an earlier age. They benefit from increased access to sound following the implant but continue to face significant challenges in learning through their hearing.

In this study we aim to gain more understanding of the factors that facilitate the development of spoken language for young children with cochlear implants.

Why is this research important?

The results of the study will help us understand how a child’s early communication environment may promote positive outcomes, that is, help children achieve their potential and an improved quality of life. The information obtained will help in providing the best early intervention options and home-based support. The research has significance for the wellbeing and lifelong development of children with severe hearing problems and their families.

Who are the researchers?

Professor Edith L. Bavin, La Trobe University
Dr Julia Sarant, University of Melbourne
Professor Candi Peterson, University of Queensland
Dr Peter Busby, Cochlear Ltd.
Professor Greg Leigh, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children

Who is funding the research?

This research is funded by the Australian Research Council under the project title 'The early communicative environment prior to and following cochlear implants: Impact on children's cognitive and communicative development'

Additional funds are provided by Cochlear Ltd and Deaf Children Australia.

How can I take part?

We invite you to participate if you are located in Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland and

  • have an infant less than 12 months old 
  • your infant has been diagnosed with a severe to profoundly hearing loss
  • and you are planning for your child to have a cochlear implant.

Contact a member of the research team in your State (see next section).

For more information about the study

If you would like further information about this study, please contact a member of the research team:


Madeline Armstrong: phone (03) 9479 3412 or email

New South Wales

Elena Badcock: phone (02) 9872 0210 or email


Jessica O’Reilly: phone (07) 3346 7283 or email

Chief Investigator
You can also contact the chief investigator, Professor Edith L. Bavin on (03) 9479 2530 or email

Ethics approval

The research has been approved by the Human Ethics Committee at La Trobe University, the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee, the Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Sydney Local Health District (RPAH Zone), Queensland Children’s Health Services (RCH) and Mater Health Services.