Early Hearing Detection Advances: Model Bill, Policy Documents Presented at National Conference ASHA has revised its state model bill to reflect Phase II of its Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) advocacy campaign, designed to help states reduce the number of infants lost to follow-up after hearing screening, expand early intervention services, and promote culturally sensitive family support programs. Phase II was ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   March 01, 2008
Early Hearing Detection Advances: Model Bill, Policy Documents Presented at National Conference
Author Notes
  • Rend Al-Mondhiry, director of state and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at ral-mondhiry@asha.org.
    Rend Al-Mondhiry, director of state and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at ral-mondhiry@asha.org.×
  • Pam Mason, director of professional practices in audiology, can be reached at pmason@asha.org.
    Pam Mason, director of professional practices in audiology, can be reached at pmason@asha.org.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   March 01, 2008
Early Hearing Detection Advances: Model Bill, Policy Documents Presented at National Conference
The ASHA Leader, March 2008, Vol. 13, 1-37. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13042008.1
The ASHA Leader, March 2008, Vol. 13, 1-37. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13042008.1
ASHA has revised its state model bill to reflect Phase II of its Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) advocacy campaign, designed to help states reduce the number of infants lost to follow-up after hearing screening, expand early intervention services, and promote culturally sensitive family support programs.
Phase II was unveiled at the Seventh Annual Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Conference, held Feb. 25–26 in New Orleans. The conference, sponsored by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, brings together more than 500 key stakeholders to identify areas of concern, promote collaboration, and share best practices.
Building on Success
Launched in 1999, ASHA’s Phase I EHDI campaign focused on federal seed grants and state legislation to expand universal newborn screening and other policies to build the infrastructure to support state EHDI programs. Since then, the number of infants screened for hearing loss has increased from 20% to 92% nationwide. Although not all states mandate hearing screening for all newborns, all states have a hearing screening program in place.
The Phase II advocacy campaign builds on the principles of the 2007 Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) Statement and the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1198 and S. 1069). ASHA’s goal is to have the federal EHDI legislation passed by this summer.
ASHA’s original EHDI state model bill was developed in 2000 and revised in 2004. The 2008 EHDI model bill focuses on follow-up services. It calls for an enhanced tracking system to monitor newborns and infants with hearing loss. It also provides:
  • A broad range of early intervention services, including family support programs

  • Comprehensive insurance coverage for intervention services and devices for children with hearing loss

  • Coverage for children with mild, moderate, and unilateral hearing loss

Although the majority of infants are screened for hearing loss, almost 60% of infants who do not pass the screening are lost to follow-up, either because they do not receive follow-up services or because their follow-up is not tracked effectively. In addition, services recommended in Phase II—early intervention services, family support programs, and devices—are either not provided or not covered by health plans. ASHA’s model legislation addresses that gap by calling for improved tracking systems and by mandating insurance coverage for early intervention services, family support programs, and devices.
The model legislation is structured so that states can adapt it to fit their needs and availability of resources. Some states, such as Rhode Island and Virginia, already mandate coverage for early intervention services, and at least nine states mandate hearing aid coverage for children.
Family-Centered, Culturally Competent
One important aspect of the Phase II follow-up and early intervention services requires states to mandate that family information and support is timely, culturally competent, and family-centered. Phase II stipulates that families receive unbiased information and offered the full range of early intervention services and treatment options available for children with hearing loss.
The model bill recently went through a widespread peer review. After reviewing the comments and making any necessary changes, ASHA will work with targeted states to implement Phase II programs.
New Documents
At the conference, three pediatric audiologists—Allan Diefendorf, Anne Marie Tharpe, and Judy Gravel—gave a presentation on the group of ASHA policy documents that support the 2007 JCIH position statement. The newest document—“Guidelines for Audiologists Providing Informational and Adjustment Counseling to Families of Infants and Young Children With Hearing Loss Birth to 5 Years of Age”—was approved last month by ASHA’s Board of Directors. The documents cover audiologic assessment; roles, knowledge, and skills; and supportive counseling guidelines.
In the past seven years, the EHDI conference has grown to draw more than 500 parents, SLPs, audiologists, early interventionists, state EHDI program coordinators, and pediatricians. The conference theme has expanded as EHDI programs have evolved. Earlier conferences focused on effective universal newborn hearing screening programs and inclusion of all stakeholders in the EHDI 1–3–6 by 3 months; early intervention services by 6 months). This year’s conference focused on legislation, cultural sensitivity in family support, family-centered services, and follow-up services statistics.
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March 2008
Volume 13, Issue 4