Belgian speech-language therapists’ practices and needs in supporting the parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children from diverse backgrounds

Pauline van der Straten Waillet, Centre Comprendre et Parler, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (
Kathryn Crowe, University of Iceland, Iceland; Charles Sturt University, Australia (
Cécile Colin, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (
Brigitte Charlier, Centre Comprendre et Parler, Belgium (

Background: Speech-language therapists (SLTs) can optimize intervention for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children through supporting these children’s parents. However, when the parents are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds SLTs may struggle to adapt their knowledge and practices to these new clinical situations.

Aim: This study aimed to 1) uncover SLTs’ practices and needs in supporting families of DHH children from diverse backgrounds, 2) collect the experiences of families of DHH children from diverse backgrounds aged 0 to 5 years old, and 3) create resources which bridge the research-practice gap for SLTs based on these findings.

Method: An online survey was completed by SLTs (N = 13) working in Belgium. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents of DHH child from diverse backgrounds (N = 5) and SLTs from diverse backgrounds working in Belgium or abroad (N = 4).

Results: SLTs feel a lack of self-efficacy in supporting families from diverse backgrounds, compared to families in general. They required resources specifically adapted to intercultural and multilingual intervention and these resources were not available to them. Parents are satisfied with the support they had received from SLTs, but suggest support could be improved through the translation of tools (rehabilitation information, strategies, advice, etc.) and the use of interpreters. Based on the findings of this study, new multilingual resources have been created and shared (

Conclusions: Supporting therapists and families to create the best possible outcomes for DHH children from diverse backgrounds requires listening to the needs of both groups to develop new solutions.

Implications for children: It is good to know more than one language and your parents and SLT can help you grow your skills in all the languages that you speak so that you can communicate and participate in your different communities.

Implications for families: Receiving information in your language will help you to understand and support your child’s multilingual development through your family habits.

Implications for practitioners: Adapting your practices to each family will optimise the effectiveness of your intervention for diverse families and there are now freely available resources to assist you with this. 

Funding: Dr Daniël De Coninck Fund managed by King Baudouin Foundation, Belgian Kids Fund.

Key words: families’ voices, professionals’ voices, innovations, speech and language, qualitative and quantitative methods, hearing loss, multilingualism.

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: