Challenges for Families of Children With Hearing Loss: Federal Report Offers Information, No Solutions Limited information and resources are challenges to providing appropriate intervention to children who are deaf and hard of hearing, according to a recently released federal report. “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: Federal Support for Developing Language and Literacy,” [PDF] reports the results of a study by the U.S. Government ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   August 01, 2011
Challenges for Families of Children With Hearing Loss: Federal Report Offers Information, No Solutions
Author Notes
  • Ingrida Lusis, director of political advocacy, can be reached at ilusis@asha.org.
    Ingrida Lusis, director of political advocacy, can be reached at ilusis@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   August 01, 2011
Challenges for Families of Children With Hearing Loss: Federal Report Offers Information, No Solutions
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.PA4.16082011.23
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.PA4.16082011.23
Limited information and resources are challenges to providing appropriate intervention to children who are deaf and hard of hearing, according to a recently released federal report.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: Federal Support for Developing Language and Literacy,” [PDF] reports the results of a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to understand how federal programs support children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Specifically, the study reviewed the prevalence of hearing loss among children, the settings in which the children are educated, and factors that help children who are deaf and hard of hearing acquire language and literacy skills, and listed challenges to providing appropriate interventions. The report did not, however, provide any recommendations.
The GAO report also found that a lack of data can impede efforts to evaluate early inter-vention outcomes for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that privacy requirements may restrict information obtained by programs funded under the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (EHDI), and limited information can be provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). GAO did report, however, that the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education are taking a number of steps to identify best practices for sharing data and tracking outcomes of children with hearing loss who receive early intervention services.
The GAO report also indicated that although children who are deaf and hard of hearing who receive appropriate educational and other services can transition successfully to adulthood, research indicates that many do not receive the support necessary in preschool or school years to keep up with their hearing peers. And, even though educators and parents agree that decisions about a child’s education should be based on his or her unique needs (as required by IDEA), the cost or availability of services often determines what a child actually receives.
Providing services in rural areas also is challenging, according to the report, because of the small numbers of children with hearing loss in those sparsely populated areas. In some rural areas, it is common for only one or two children with hearing impairment to live in a county. In these cases, children may not have access to the same level of expertise or services as children in urban areas.
In concluding its report, GAO indicated that meeting the needs of children who are deaf and hard of hearing requires an approach that begins early and is tailored to each child’s needs. Given the positive impact early intervention can have on a child’s development and future self-sufficiency, and the level of federal funding devoted to these services, the evaluation of the effectiveness of early intervention is crucial.
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August 2011
Volume 16, Issue 8