A girl born profoundly deaf now plays the guitar and is part of a singing club, thanks to a pioneering screening scheme.

Lacey Bradley was just nine days old when she was diagnosed as part of a pilot test in Brighton and Hove and has worn a hearing aid since she was two weeks old.

Now nine, the keen musician’s mother Michele Nethercott said Lacey’s language is the same level as other children her age.

Ms Nethercroft, 29, said: “There are so many children born before Lacey who didn’t have this early test and were only diagnosed when they were 18 months old.

“They haven’t done as well and their language development is far more delayed.

“Lacey did have a year’s delay on her language development before she had the cochlear implants, which were fitted when she was three and four, but now she is not behind on anything.

“She has lived an able-bodied life.

“If you couldn’t see her hearing aids you wouldn’t knowshe was born profoundly deaf.”

Lacey has had cochlear implants on both ears – surgically implanted electronic devices to help her to hear.

Because her deafness was picked up so early by the tests – which have now been rolled out nationwide – Lacey’s incredible development has led medics to describe her as an “inspirational child”.


She has been singing at Voicehut in Woodingdean, Brighton, for 18 months and is now learning to play the guitar to help her to hear tones.

Ms Nethercroft, from Wiston Road in Whitehawk, said: “She spoke quite well until she was two using a hearing aid.

“The sound through the implants is the closest thing to natural hearing but you tend to hear on one level.

“I’ve listened through the aids and speaking sounds almost robotic.”

Brighton and Hove was chosen as a pilot area for the newborn hearing screening programme and started testing babies in July 2002. It was rolled out nationally in 2006.

A hand-held machine is inserted into the ear and makes a clicking sound. The machine then picks up on the sound made in response.

Identifying if babies have hearing problems means they can be fitted with hearing aids at a very young age and can grow up hearing the world around them.