Statistics

A CDC study that followed school-aged children identified with hearing loss into young adulthood (21-25 years old) found:

  • About 40% of young adults with hearing loss identified during childhood reported experiencing at least one limitation in daily functioning. [Read summary]
  • About 71% of young adults with hearing loss without other related conditions (such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or vision loss) were employed. [Read summary]

Economic Cost

  • During the 1999-2000 school year, the total cost in the United States for special education programs for children who were deaf or hard of hearing was $652 million, or $11,006 per child. [Read report]
  • The lifetime educational cost of hearing loss (more than 40 dB permanent loss without other disabilities) has been estimated at $134,771.89 per child (adjusted for 2016 inflation).
  • It is expected that the lifetime costs for all people with hearing loss who were born in 2000 will total $2.76 billion (adjusted for 2015 inflation). [Read article]
    • Direct medical costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and inpatient hospital stays, will make up 6% of these costs.
    • Direct nonmedical expenses, such as home modifications and special education, will make up 30% of these costs.
    • Indirect costs, which include the value of lost wages when a person cannot work or is limited in the amount or type of work he or she can do, will make up 63% of the costs.

Note: These estimates do not include other expenses, such as hospital outpatient visits, sign language interpreters, and family out-of-pocket expenses. As a result, the actual economic costs of hearing loss are higher than what is reported here.

Sources: CDC; Grosse SD. “Education Cost Savings From Early Detection of Hearing Loss: New Findings.” Volta Voices 2007;14(6):38-40.

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Hearing Health Foundation was instrumental in advocating for the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation. In 1993, only 5% of newborns were tested at birth for hearing loss. By 1997, 94% were tested before leaving the hospital, and today 97% of babies are screened before they leave the hospital.

  • Of babies who have their hearing tested, 1.6% do not pass.
  • Of those who do not pass the hearing screening, 69% are diagnosed with having hearing loss before 3 months of age.
  • The number of infants screened for hearing loss increased from 2006 (95.2%) to 2012 (96.6%).

Today, almost all hospitals and birthing centers throughout the U.S. screen newborns for hearing loss. New parents should talk to their doctors to make sure a hearing test was performed and ask for the results. If a baby’s hearing was not screened it is best to speak to a pediatrician and schedule an initial hearing screening before the child is 1 month old.

Approximately 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing. Fortunately, early identification allows children with hearing loss to receive help they need during the first two years of life, a critical period for the development of speech and language skills.

Left undetected, hearing loss can negatively impact speech and language acquisition, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. These negative impacts can diminish and even be eliminated through early detection and intervention.

Hospitals use two different types of newborn hearing screening tests. Both are safe and comfortable for your baby.

Otoacoustic Emissions Test

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are given off by the inner ear when the cochlea is stimulated by a sound. When sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. Those with typical hearing produce these emissions, while those with a hearing loss greater than 25-30 dB do not.

OAE tests are typically used during newborn screenings. During the test, a soft foam earphone and microphone are placed in the ear. If a baby hears normally, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone. When a baby has a hearing loss, middle ear fluid, blockage or damage, no echo can be measured.

Auditory Brainstem Response Test

The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test provides information about the inner ear (cochlea) and brain pathways for hearing. When conducting ABR tests, hearing specialists play sounds into the baby’s ears. Bandage-like electrodes are placed on the baby’s head to detect brain wave activity. This test measures how the hearing nerve responds to sounds and can identify babies who have a hearing loss.

During ABR tests, the infant being tested rests quietly or sleeps while the test is performed. In newborn screenings only one intensity or loudness level is checked, and the baby either passes or fails the screen.

Sources: CDC, ASHA, NIDCD

A newborn hearing screening is the first step. If the screening reveals a baby may have a hearing loss, parents should take a deep breath. Parents often feel overwhelmed, scared, and have many, many questions. Hearing loss is a loss. It’s not uncommon that to grieve after receiving a diagnosis. Take some time to come to terms with the news, and know that there are professionals ready to help and there are many resources at your disposal. There are also countless families who have gone through this same experience and have found success.

After a child has received a diagnosis of hearing loss, the next step is to schedule an appointment for a follow-up examination with an audiologist. The audiologist will attempt to identify the cause and kind of hearing loss and may recommend further medical attention, such as a visit to the otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist, or ENT).

Audiologists, ENTs, pediatricians, and other professionals will direct parents to intervention services to help overcome barriers to communication.

If the follow-up test does not show there is a hearing loss, it is still important to check a child’s hearing periodically. Hearing loss can occur at any time of life. Some forms of hearing loss do not appear until a child is a toddler or enters school, or even later. In addition, illness, ear infections, head injury, certain medications and exposure to loud noise are all potential causes of hearing loss.

Causes, Risk Factors, and Characteristics

  • Genetics are responsible for 50%-60% of children with hearing loss.
    • About 20% of babies with genetic hearing loss have a “syndrome” (for example, Down syndrome or Usher syndrome).
  • Maternal Infections during pregnancy, environmental causes, and complications after birth are responsible for almost 30% of babies with hearing loss.
  • Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among children.
    • 14% of babies exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) of some type.
    • About 3-5% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL.
  • Children born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds) have a 1 in 4 chance of developing hearing loss.
  • 30-40% of children with hearing loss have co-occurring conditions.

Sources: NIDCD, CDC

In 2013, 87.3% of babies with diagnosed hearing loss were referred to The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA). Part C of IDEA is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers (birth through 2 years old) with disabilities and their families. 92.3% of that 87.3% were eligible for Part C services.

With early intervention, children with hearing loss are able to develop language skills to help them communicate freely and actively learn. There are many services available to support children. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures all children with disabilities have access to services they need for a good education. In addition, Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded programs to help young children of low-income families become better equipped to succeed in school.

If a child uses more than one of these options listed below, he or she has a better chance of understanding what others are saying and of being understood.

Hearing devices. One of the most common tools is the hearing aid, a device worn in or behind the ear that helps amplify sounds. Hearing aids have improved over the years and can be used for different degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe, and in babies as young as 1 month old. An audiologist can choose the best hearing aid for a child and make sure it is secure and properly fitted.

If a child has a profound hearing loss and won’t benefit from a hearing aid, a doctor may suggest a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants can be fitted in children from age 1. A cochlear implant is an electronic device that converts sounds into electrical signals and carries them past the nonworking part of the inner ear to the brain. With training, children with cochlear implants can learn to recognize sounds and understand speech. Talk with an ENT who specializes in cochlear implants to determine if it is the right kind of intervention for your child.

Language and communication. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing learn to communicate in a number of ways.

  • Some families may choose to communicate using American Sign Language, while others choose approaches that build upon the English language when communicating.
  • Cued Speech combines the natural lip movements of speech with hand shapes representing phonetic sounds, providing additional visual cues so sounds such as “p” and “b” or “f” and “v” can be distinguished.
  • Other families take an auditory-oral approach. Here, a child uses his or her natural hearing ability, along with speech-reading and hearing devices, to enhance speaking and language skills.

Language development begins early so parents should select the approach they feel is most appropriate for them and interact with their child as much as possible. Audiologists, ENTs, and pediatricians are able to provide more information about the choices available.

Assistive devices. Some devices enable a person with hearing loss to communicate in certain environments.

  • A personal FM amplifier uses a microphone to convert a classroom teacher’s voice into radio waves, which are transmitted to a receiver worn by the child.
  • Children with hearing loss are able to watch most televised programming using closed captions. Increasingly, movie theaters across the country also offer closed captioning.
  • Induction loop systems are be found in many churches, schools, airports, auditoriums, and other public spaces.
    • An induction loop system transmits audio signal directly into a hearing aid via a magnetic field, greatly reducing background noise, competing sounds, reverberation, and other acoustic distortions that reduce clarity of sound. These sounds are transmitted via hearing aids and cochlear implants equipped with a telecoil (t-coil).
  • Telecommunications relay services, available through all telephone companies, enable people with hearing loss to communicate on the phone. People can type in messages on a keyboard and view returned messages on a display screen, all through the help of a communications assistant who translates between the two telephone parties.

Sources: CDC, NIDCD

Hearing Health Foundation researchers are hard at work to find cures and treatments for hearing loss.

Hearing Restoration Project (HRP): 14 top scientists are working collaboratively to identify the steps required to regenerate the cells in the inner ear that enable us to hear sounds. Birds and fish are able to regenerate cells naturally after they are deafened by loud sounds or chemical exposure, but humans and other mammals cannot. HRP scientists are trying to understand how birds and fish do it—and to apply that knowledge to humans. Learn more here.

Emerging Research Grants (ERG): Our ERG program provides seed funding to promising early-career hearing and balance research. Since 1958, we have awarded more than 2,000 grants—including research leading to cochlear implant technology—kick-starting the careers of today’s leading hearing and balance researchers. Learn more here.

Five key strategies for parents to help support their children with hearing loss in school:

Develop an Effective IEP

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a plan developed by a team of professionals and parents to ensure needs for a student who is eligible for special education services are met.

A child’s IEP includes up-to-date performance indicators for everyone on the team to understand. Goals and objectives should be clearly written, measurable, and reflective of the student’s needs.

The IEP clearly identifies required accommodations, such as classroom listening technology, preferential seating, and media captioning. Accommodations may also include teaching new vocabulary ahead of time, shortened reading and writing assignments, supplemental materials for extra practice, alternative testing, or educational interpreters.

General educators are not trained to understand the impact that hearing loss has on learning. That’s where an IEP comes into play: It mandates professionals (such as teachers of the deaf and speech-language pathologists) train general education teachers on strategies that will support successful education of the student.

Ensure an Optimal Acoustic Environment

Classrooms are noisy places. Personal and sound-field systems plus noise-reduction materials such as acoustic ceiling tiles, carpeted floor areas, and fabric on window treatments and walls help promote focused learning—for all students. Creating floor plans and seating arrangements set away from noise sources such as hallway traffic and heating and cooling equipment help diminish typical classroom sound levels, too.

Establish Effective Communication and Collaboration

Information shared at IEP meetings should not be a surprise to any team member, including parents. Teachers of the deaf, speech therapists, general educators, and parents should communicate frequently and monitor progress.

It is helpful to establish an agreed-upon means of communication, such as email or a notebook to be shared for use at home and school, to keep all team members updated on what is happening on a daily or weekly basis with the child.

Provide Appropriate Support Services

A child’s IEP clearly states how much time teachers of the deaf and/or speech-language pathologists are working with your child in or outside of the classroom to provide services. This is in addition to time spent observing the student in the general education classroom; consulting with the general education teacher and co-teaching in the general education classroom; and offering special training for faculty, staff, and classmates.

Encourage Social Development and Self-Advocacy

It is easiest to enter a new situation when the environment is familiar. A child may feel more comfortable and better situated to succeed when they don’t need to learn classroom logistics, routines, and other children’s names—all at the same time.

Introducing a child to their teacher and a few classmates before the school year begins is a good way to improve their comfort in a new setting. Students who enter a new school setting with friends from the neighborhood or a shared special interest in sports, clubs, or activities are more likely to experience less stress.

Self-advocacy is a long-term learning process that starts when a hearing loss is identified. Help a child learn to care for their own hearing technology as soon as they can. Teach them to ask for clarification when they don’t understand. In this way, they can learn to take responsibility for their own needs so they can be independent.

Source:  Hearing Health magazine, Fall 2016 issue

EASTERN/ATLANTIC U.S.

CAMPED UP
Ages: 3 and older
Location: New York and Long Island, New York
Camped Up is a day camp program located in both Manhattan and Long Island for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid users.

CAMP ISOLA BELLA
Ages: 8 to 17
Location: Berkshire Mountains, Salisbury, Connecticut
Owned and operated by the American School for the Deaf, the camp for the deaf and hard of hearing follows the School’s open approach to communication, utilizing each camper’s mode of communication: sign language, oral, aural, lip-reading or a mix.

CAMP MARK SEVEN
Ages: 9 to 16
Location: Old Forge, New York
Camp Mark Seven offers many development and leadership activities for the deaf youth and children programs.

CLARKE SCHOOLS’ SUMMER PROGRAMS
Ages: 9 to 14
Location: Easthampton, Massachusetts
Clarke’s Summer Adventure is a two-week, theme-based camp for children with hearing loss who utilize hearing technology such as, hearing aids or cochlear implants, and communicate using listening and spoken language.

CRADLE BEACH SUMMER CAMP
Ages: 8 to 16
Location: Cradle Beach, New York
This is a Camp for children with special needs and children from low-income families from Western New York and beyond.

LIONS CAMP KIRBY
Age: 8 to 18
Location:  Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania
Camp Kirby offers a two-week camp for deaf and hard of hearing children and their siblings.

LIONS CAMP MERRICK
Ages: 6 to 16
Location: Nanjemoy, Maryland
Lions Camp Merrick offers nonstop fun for children who are deaf, blind or diabetic.

EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE
Ages: High school students who will begin their junior or senior year in the fall
Location: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York this is a six-day career exploration program at Rochester Institute of Technology for college-bound deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students who will begin their junior or senior year in the fall.

RIT TECHGIRLZ
Ages: Grades 7 through 9
Location: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
A weeklong summer camp for deaf or hard-of-hearing girls entering 7th, 8th, or 9th grade who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

RIT TECHBOYZ
Ages: Grades 7 through 9
Location: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York.
A weeklong summer camp for deaf or hard-of-hearing boys entering 7th, 8th, or 9th grade who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math.

RIT HEALTH CARE CAREERS EXPLORATION CAMP
Ages: Grades 10 through 12
Location: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
For deaf and hard-of-hearing students who are entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade in the fall, and who are interested in a career in health care.

SCRANTON SCHOOL FOR DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING CHILDREN
Ages: Preschool to 8th grade
Location: Pittsburgh and Scranton, Pennsylvania
Camp with both overnight and day camp options.

SERTOMA CAMP ENDEAVOR
Ages: 7 to 17
Location: Dundee, Florida
Camp Endeavor is for deaf and hard of hearing youth ages 7 to 17.

SPRING CAMP CHEERIO
Location: Roaring Gap, North Carolina
The weekend camp designed with families in mind, who are interested in learning strategies for spoken language and sharing experiences as they relate to hearing impairment.

MIDWEST/CENTRAL U.S.

BILL RICE RANCH DEAF CAMPS
Ages: 9 to 19
Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The Bill Ranch Deaf Camps are conservative Christian summer camps for deaf and hard of hearing students.

BRIDGES
Ages: Grades K to 12
Location: White Bluff and Nashville, Tennessee
For deaf and hard-of-hearing children who have deaf parents, Camp Sign Me Up is a designed to teach hearing students American Sign Language, with three weeks and three different levels. Camp Rise and Sign is for a weekend, and Camp Jump Start is Bridges’s After School Program students.

CAMP BARNABAS
Ages: 7 to 18
Location: Teas Trail Camp – Purdy, Missouri
This camp includes a very diverse group of campers—deaf/hard of hearing, chronic illnesses, blind or visually impaired, etc.—ranging in age.

HOLLEY FAMILY VILLAGE PROGRAMS
Location: Brooklyn, Michigan
Residential programs offer unique opportunities for children, adults and families of all ages. These include: education for families with deaf children, youth leadership, art initiatives for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, self-advocacy workshops for deaf/blind adults, and classes in American Sign Language.

INDIANA CHILDREN’S DEAF CAMP
Ages: 4 to 16
Location: Milford, Indiana
This camp provides activities for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

JOSEPH SERTOMA CLUB SUMMER CAMP FOR D/HH
Ages: 7 to 14
Location: Easton, Missouri
A summer camp experience for children with hearing loss.

SOUTHWEST U.S.

APACHE CREEK DEAF AND YOUTH RANCH DEAF CAMP
Ages: 8 to 19
Location: Apache Reserve, New Mexico
This is a weeklong Christian camp for deaf and hard of hearing youth.

ASPEN CAMP
Ages: 8 to 17
Location: Snowmass, Colorado
A summer camp experience for deaf and hard-of-hearing youth.

CNI COCHLEAR KIDS CAMP
Ages: 2 to 18
Location: Estes Park, Colorado
This four-day camp is for families of children with cochlear implants.

LIONS CAMP TATIYEE
Ages: 7 and older
Location: Lakeside, Arizona
Camp Tatiyee accommodates children with various disabilities.

TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF
Ages: 15 to 22
Location: Austin, Texas
The program is offered by the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at the Texas School for the Deaf and serves students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing from across the state of Texas.

*Please note camp information is subject to change.