A large variety of service providers, philosophies, and approaches are available to support the development of deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. This page will provide resources and information to help you make the best choices for your unique child.
- Infant Hearing Screening
- Early Intervention
- Deaf Parents of Hearing Kids
- Family Support
- Choosing a Communication Approach
- For Fun!
- Books & Such
Health officials in Michigan set a goal to ensure that newborns in the state are screened for hearing loss before leaving the birth hospital, or before reaching one month of age. Because language development is such an important part of early childhood, it is essential for children with hearing loss to receive supportive services as soon as possible. The sooner a child’s hearing loss is discovered, the sooner these vital services can begin.
Click here for more on Infant Hearing Screening
For the latest guidelines and information on infant hearing screening see the following web sites:
This is one of the goals of Michigan’s Department of Community Health Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program. Early Intervention is critical to give young deaf and hard of hearing children the best opportunity for healthy development.
Children learn language very easily, but as all adults know, it becomes much more difficult to learn a new language later in life. This is due to the way the brain develops in early childhood. It is important that young children are exposed to language to develop a strong language base, a framework for adding new or more complex language, and the brain pathways to process symbols into meaning. Children who lose their hearing prior to age 4 are at a distinct disadvantage. Unlike their peers who casually learn new words by overhearing adults, watching TV, and interacting with other kids, deaf or hard of hearing children need deliberate assistance to learn spoken language. A deaf child, for example, may not ‘hear’ any words and must rely completely on visual clues for language. Since only 30% of spoken language is visible, the child will need a great deal of training to acquire an understanding of spoken words. Sign language, a visual language, may be easier for a deaf child to learn, but will require the family to learn and use the language too. A hard of hearing child will hear some language, but not to the extent of a child with normal hearing. Words may be distorted or misunderstood, depending on the degree of loss. This will impact pronunciation, vocabulary development, and ultimately reading ability.
Beyond language, young children need interaction with parents, other adults, siblings, and other children. Early hearing loss may interfere with this important socialization.
For these, and many more reasons, early detection of hearing loss, and swift interventions are important for the lifelong well–being of the child.
Michigan’s EHDI program provides resources to parents on their web site. Click here for more information.
Click here for Parents to view about newborn infants who did not pass hearing test.
My Baby’s Hearing
Babyhearing.org is an easy to use introduction to hearing loss in babies. It is produced by a team of professionals at Boys Town National Research Hospital in cooperation with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
When is the best time to fit a child with hearing aids?
This article by the Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Galluadet talks about hearing aids for young children.
The site has a lot of information related to kids and hearing loss.
Deaf Parents Chat
“Deaf_Parents” is a chat/support list for those deaf parents with hearing children. This list brings adult children of deaf parents (*codas) together WITH deaf parents, so that they can share experiences with each other. The requirements for membership are: – be 18 years of age or older; – be a deaf parent or an adult child of deaf parents.
Deaf C.A.N. sponsors a FREE playgroup for Deaf parents and their hearing children, ages 0–3 years old –– Older siblings are welcome!
Who goes to the Play Group?
Deaf Families with infants or toddlers (under age 3) who want their children to learn and grow!
What do we do at LEAP?
PLAY! Young children learn best by playing– by exploring their world with adults who care about them. Playgroups give children and parents a chance to have fun together, do art projects, experiment with play dough, etc. We will have a snack each session and a short group activity.
When and Where?
10–11:30 AM every Friday
Oakland Family Services
114 Orchard Lake Road
Pontiac (Just west of Woodward on the North side of the Street)
The teachers are Michelle Osterhout and Susan Lundy.
For more information or to register contact:
(248) 332–3323 TTY
(248) 332–3331 Voice
(248) 332–7334 Fax
Or see the Deaf C.A.N. Website and click on LEAP http://www.deafcan.org/
For the current agenda contact DeafCAN firstname.lastname@example.org
From the day a hearing loss is diagnosed, through the child’s entire educational process, parents will be asked to make choices that will impact the child’s communication, education, and life. This is an awesome, and sometimes, overwhelming responsibility. Thankfully, organizations are available to assist families as they sort through all the new and diverse information.
Hands & Voices
Hands & Voices is a parent driven, non–profit organization dedicated to providing unbiased support to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
For information regarding the new Michigan Chapter of Hands & Voices contact:
Denise Farrand FarrandD@michigan.gov or (517) 241-7066
Beginnings– For Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Inc.
BEGINNINGS provides an impartial approach to meeting the diverse needs of families with deaf and hard of hearing children and the professionals who serve them.
National Parent Information Network (NPIN)
Find the latest research related to your questions on this site’s searchable database.
American Society for Deaf Children
A united effort, championing deaf and hard of hearing children.
Kids World– DeafNET
KidsWorld Deaf Net (KWDN) is a national communication network for parents and professionals involved in the education of deaf and hard of hearing children.
Raising Deaf Kids
This site strives to help parents make better decisions. It includes lots of information and resources on hearing loss.
A site with information and advocacy for people interested in hard of hearing children.
The OtiKids program is a hearing care program for children. It is intended to provide support in as many ways as possible for children with hearing loss and their parents.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
This program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, has information on disabilities, education, and many related topics. They also have free publications for download.
Opening Doors: Technology and Communication Options for Children with Hearing Loss
Parents of children with hearing loss can find helpful information and resources in a publication produced for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) by the Academy for Educational Development (AED). Opening Doors: Technology and Communication Options for Children with Hearing Loss provides background on early intervention, the use of technology and other support available to children and their families.
Download the entire document or view on line at:
A Note: Every child and every family is unique. It is not the intent of this website to promote any particular approach to language learning. Our intent is to simply provide information.
Most parents assume their child will naturally learn to speak the same language as they do. It can be a great shock, and a source of profound feelings of loss, to learn that a deaf or hard of hearing child will need an entirely different approach to learning language. (Unless the parents are deaf themselves, in which case the child will learn ASL like the rest of the family.)
While most hard of hearing children can benefit from amplification and spoken language training, parents of children with a severe to profound hearing loss will be faced with additional considerations. Whether or not a child should receive a Cochlear Implant further impacts communication decisions (see our Cochlear Implant section)
For a more complete discussion of the various educational and communication approaches available for deaf and hard of hearing children see our Education section.
For an excellent overview of the primary communication methods see the article: Communication Choices with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.
Following is a brief summary of communication approaches.
Sometimes called the Oral/Aural method, this approach to language learning utilizes residual hearing and speech training. Hand signs are not used in the purely Oral method. Using intensive speech therapy, the emphasis is on teaching children to use spoken language for communication.
Cued speech is a method that uses hand movements to reinforce spoken language communication. It does not use American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Rather Cued speech helps the child become aware of mouth movements used in pronunciation that are not visible on the lips.
For additional resources, see the following:
Alexander Graham Bell Association
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is an international membership organization and resource center on hearing loss and spoken language approaches and related issues.
John Tracy Clinic
John Tracy Clinic is a private, non–profit deaf education center. Its mission is to offer hope, guidance and encouragement to families of infants and preschool children with hearing losses by providing free, parent–centered services worldwide. The Clinic has 60 years of expertise in the spoken language option.
Cued Speech Discovery Home Page
This is the online Bookstore of the National Cued Speech Association. Besides books and other learning tools, the site provides a basic overview of Cued Speech.
READ Education Center
READ’s goals include empowering parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing through full awareness of all the issues and options related to choosing the mode of communication and educational settings appropriate for their children. The program serves Chicago and the Mid–west.
Total Communication or Simultaneous Communication
Total Communication is a philosophy that uses amplified hearing, speech, and signing to communicate and educate each child in the manner in which they learn best. Signs used are based on ASL and may have English modifiers (i.e., ing, ed, pre) to aid in teaching English. Click here to read an in–depth article on this philosophy.
This approach assumes that a Deaf child will develop ASL language most quickly, naturally, and completely. This strong base of visual language is a foundation for learning English as a second language through writing, reading, and spoken language. Exposure to fluent ASL is essential to this approach. The following links provide more information about this approach.
Learn about educational options and laws on our Education Page.
At times, parents may need to advocate for programs and services for a child. The following resources will help.
Special Education: An Advocate’s Guide
When you get to the web site, click on Publications. This is a comprehensive guide to the special education process. Includes chapters on the legal basis for special education, IEPs and IEPTs, and problem–solving. Free from Michigan Protection and Advocacy. (While the web site lists a cost, the manual is now available at no charge.)
Hey! Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids want to have fun too! Here are some interesting and informative sites for fun activities!
Also visit our Youth area
Interpreted Theater in Michigan
A schedule of interpreted performances.
HiP for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids and their Parents
A magazine and more.
A Chat room just for Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids
Fa–Ho–Lo Deaf Family Camp
Fa–Ho–Lo Camp & Conference Center in Grass Lake, Michigan
An award winning television and DVD series for children.