Wits Education Campus. St Andrews Road, Parktown 2000 info@hihopes.co.za +27 (0)11 717 3750

Our 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.

We provide the 1) Home Interventionist and 2) 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 a 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. See how you can help for further information of 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 2016 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 Interventionists 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.

Our programme consists of both a Deaf Mentor Programme as well as a Home Interventionist Programme.