Hearing Loss: New Online Directory for Parents
Each year, more than 12,000 babies are born deaf or hard of hearing; most have two hearing parents. Hearing loss can affect a child's ability to develop communication, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they will reach their full potential.
New Web-Based Tool
How can a parent find where to get a full hearing test, one that matches their family's needs?
A national group of health professionals and parents developed a free web-based list of pediatric hearing audiology facilities, known as the Pediatric Audiology Links to Services (PALS). This search tool is designed to help families find where to go for hearing tests and other hearing related services. There is no other listing of U.S. audiology facilities for young children as complete, accessible, or easy to use.
PALS is managed by a non-profit group of government, professional and service organizations. It is not connected to any marketing effort by the facilities listed.
Parents can explore different possible facilities on PALS before making contact.
PALS has information about hearing (audiology) services for infants, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children. All of the facilities listed must report that they have the right equipment and expertise to serve children, and have licensed audiologists.
PALS is easy to use and works like most search tools. Clicking "Find a Facility" on the homepage takes visitors to a few simple questions that help pinpoint their location and need. Then the program generates a list of the nearest audiology facilities that match the request. Each listing comes with clinic information, including:
- audiology (hearing and balance testing) services
- type of language interpretation available
- payment options
- appointment availability
Clicking on "Parent Resources" provides potential questions for parents to ask when making the appointment or at the appointment, as well as contact information to reach state early hearing programs.
"Other Helpful Websites" provides links to national and state parent support organizations and other resources that parents and professionals can use to get more information about childhood hearing loss and hearing testing.
All this lets families:
- narrow their search to the nearest facilities
- sort and assess possible facilities by several factors before contacting audiologists
- personalize the search to match their child's current needs
Referring physicians and other helping professionals can benefit from the listings, too. It lets them identify audiology facilities for further information before referring their patients or clients.
About Hearing Loss
Diagnosing a hearing loss takes two steps:
- Hearing screening
- A full hearing test
A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear is not working in the usual way. This includes the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, and hearing (acoustic) nerve. Fortunately, 95% of infants born in the United States have their hearing screened, most before one month of age.
Hearing screening is easy and babies are often asleep while being screened. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes. All babies should be screened for hearing loss no later than 1 month of age. It is best if they are screened before leaving the hospital after birth. If the baby does not pass the screening test, the baby may have hearing loss, and should have a full hearing test
A Full Hearing Test
If a baby does not pass a hearing screening, it's very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age. This test is also called an audiology evaluation. An audiologist, who is an expert trained to test hearing, will do the full hearing test. The audiologist will also ask questions about overall health and hearing loss in the family.
Hearing loss can affect a child's ability to develop communication, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. If your child did not pass the hearing screening, please talk with your family doctor about a full hearing test. Also, if you suspect your child has hearing loss, trust your instincts and speak with your child's doctor. Don't wait!
Then, if you need information about childhood hearing and hearing services, use the EHDI-PALS at http://www.ehdipals.org.
- Boys Town National Research Hospital
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
- Hands & Voices
- National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management
- More links to websites about hearing
The EHDI-PALS Advisory Group includes representatives from the following organizations:
The American Academy of Audiology (AAA) ,The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Directors of Speech and Hearing Programs in State Health and Welfare Agencies (DSHPSHWA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) , National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM), Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center and Mid-South Regional Resource Center (ECTAC, RRCP), Hands & Voices (H&V)
Informatics support provided by the University of Maine Center for Research & Evaluation/Developmental Epidemiology and Biobehavioral Informatics group.
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