There are a variety of communication and learning options for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some families choose exclusively listening and spoken language, while others choose exclusively sign language, and some choose a combination of spoken and sign language. Parents should choose the communication and educational options that will work best for their unique child and family.
Listen and Talk’s programs are all based in listening and spoken language approaches. The Principles of Auditory-Verbal Therapy and Auditory-Verbal Education guide our practices in each program.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many children are born with a hearing loss each year?
More than 3 in 1,000 children are born with some degree of hearing loss. It is the single most commonly occurring birth anomaly in United States. In Washington State, the Department of Health estimates that between 86-500 babies are born each year with a hearing loss.
What are the causes of hearing loss?
Some infants may have some hearing loss at birth. Hearing loss can also develop in children who had normal hearing as infants. Hearing loss can occur in one or both ears and be mild to profound. Sometimes, hearing loss can get more severe over time and other times it does not get worse. There are some risk factors for hearing loss that include family history of hearing loss and low birthweight. Other times hearing loss can be caused by:
-Injury to the eardrum
-Abnormal development of the structures of the ear
-Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or medications while in the womb or after birth
-Infections the mother passes to her baby in the womb
-Infections such as meningitis or measles
-Problems with the structure of the inner ear
It is often possible to treat hearing loss that is caused by problems in the area of the eardrum and the middle ear, which is right behind the eardrum. There is no cure for hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or nerves.
Why is it important to screen a baby for hearing loss?
Left undetected, hearing loss in infants can negatively impact the acquisition of speech and language, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. If detected, however, these negative impacts can be diminished and even eliminated through early intervention. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Consensus Development Conference on Early Identification of Hearing Loss concluded that all infants should be screened for hearing loss, ideally prior to hospital discharge.
Children with hearing loss who receive early intervention services in a timely way are often able to develop language skills on par with their hearing peers. Recent research has concluded that children born with a hearing loss who are identified and given appropriate intervention before 6 months of age demonstrated significantly better speech and reading comprehension than children identified after 6 months of age.1
Can a child with a hearing loss learn to talk while using hearing aids or is a cochlear implant necessary?
There is a difference between speech and language. Speech is made up of sounds that are combined to make words and sentences, and language is the meaningful combination of thoughts that can be communicated. Spoken language is typically developed by hearing it. When a child is deaf or hard of hearing, appropriate technology is important for giving that child access to sound, so they have the potential to develop the ability to listen and talk. Some children benefit from hearing aids and others receive greater benefit from cochlear implants. Strong partnerships between families, teachers, therapists, and audiologists are essential to maximizing the potential of technology to help a child with hearing loss learn how to speak.
Are all the children who attend Listen and Talk profoundly deaf?
We support children with all degrees of hearing loss, single sided (unilateral) or mild losses to profound bilateral (both ears) hearing loss. Listen and Talk’s Blended Classrooms offer a cooperative environment for children with and without hearing loss. Children with normal hearing benefit from the language rich classroom experiences and help Listen and Talk provide a typical early childhood experience for our students with hearing loss to the greatest extent possible.
Why do some parents choose a listening and spoken language education for their child?
Parents’ communication choices are based on their long-term desired outcomes for their child. The goal of listening and spoken language education is to provide children with the ability to listen and speak like their hearing peers.
Many children who are diagnosed with a hearing loss are born to hearing parents. A listening and spoken language education can facilitate easier communication with family and community members. Young adults who are graduates of Listen and Talk regularly report that their listening and spoken language education has allowed them to integrate into regular classrooms, develop fulfilling careers, and to be socially active within the hearing community.
How do children who are deaf or hard of hearing learn to listen and talk?
By combining proven auditory-verbal educational methods with the use of advanced hearing technology such as state of the art hearing aids and cochlear implants, almost all children with hearing loss can learn to rely only on listening and spoken language. Technology provides necessary access to sound while education administered by highly trained professionals allows a child to make sense of that sound and use it to learn and communicate.
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a resource, support network, and advocate for listening, learning, talking and living independently with hearing loss.
Hands and Voices is dedicated to supporting families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing without a bias around communication modes or methodology. They are a parent-driven, nonprofit organization providing families with the resources, networks, and information they need to improve communication access and educational outcomes for their children. Their outreach activities, parent/professional collaboration, and advocacy efforts are focused on enabling Deaf and Hard of Hearing children to reach their highest potential.
OPTION Schools, Inc. is comprised of listening and spoken language programs and schools for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. OPTIONS Schools is committed to advancing excellence in listening and spoken language education by providing information and support to programs and school leaders.
1Yoshinaga-Itano, C. and Apuzzo M.L. Identification of hearing loss after 18 months of age is not early enough. American Annals of the Deaf. 1998; 143(5):380-387.