A to Z List of Terms
American Sign Language (ASL): ASL is a visual language. It is a complete language. It is much more than making gestures or “pictures in the air.” ASL has its own vocabulary and grammar that is different from English. Signs and sentences in ASL are made using handshapes (for example, a pointing handshape, or the fingers spread out to show the number 5), moving the hands and arms (for example, in a straight line, or bouncing), and different facial expressions (for example, frowning or raising your eyebrows). You can share feelings, abstract ideas, and make jokes using ASL. You can take ASL classes and start teaching your baby even while you are still learning it yourself.
Assistive Listening Devices: There are many devices that can help children and adults with hearing loss. You can talk to your audiologist about which one (or ones) is best for your child. Some of these devices include:
- Hearing Aids
- Cochlear Implants
- FM Systems
- Telephone amplifiers
- Flashing and vibrating alarms
- Audio loops systems
- Infra red listening devices
- Portable sound amplifiers
- TTY or TDD (Text Telephone or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf)
Audiologist: A professional trained to test hearing by performing audiology evaluations.
Audiology Evaluation: A complete hearing evaluation performed by an audiologist . The evaluations include:
- A test that will tell the audiologist how your baby’s outer and middle ear are working.
- A test that measures how your baby reacts to sounds.
- A test that checks the ears’ response to sound.
- A test that checks the brain’s response to sound.
The audiologist will ask you questions about your baby’s health, hearing loss in you family, and how well you think your baby hears.
Auditory nerve: (Hearing nerve) This nerve carries electrical signals from the cochlea in the inner ear to the brain.
Auditory-Oral: The auditory-oral program teaches babies and young children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to use whatever hearing they have. They also use lipreading (speechreading) and gestures to understand and use spoken language. This program includes building blocks such as Natural Gestures, Listening, Speech (Lip) Reading, and Speech.
Auditory-Verbal: The auditory-verbal program teaches babies and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing to use their amplified residual hearing or hearing through electrical stimulation (Cochlear Implants ) to listen, to understand spoken language, and to speak. This program includes building blocks such as Listening and Speech.
Auditory Training / Listening: Many children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have some amount of hearing. This is called residual hearing . Some parents of a child with residual hearing may choose to use a building block called listening (auditory training). This building block is often used together with assistive devices such as Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants .
Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test (AABR): This test that measures the brain’s response to sound using electrodes.
Bilateral Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that affects both ears.
Bilingual: This program teaches babies and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing two languages, American Sign Language (ASL) and the family’s native language, (for example, English or Spanish). ASL is usually taught as the child’s first language and English (or the family’s native language) is taught as the child’s second language through reading, writing, Speech, and use of residual hearing . This program also teaches respect for Deaf and hearing cultures. This program also includes building blocks such as Finger Spelling and Natural Gestures.
Building Block(s): “Building Blocks” refers to the different skills that parents can use to help their child learn language. There are many types of building blocks, and a family can pick and choose the building block (or blocks) that work best for their child and family. The following is a list of many commonly used building blocks.
- Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE)
- Cued Speech
- Finger Spelling
- Listening / Auditory Training
- Manually Coded English (MCE)
- Natural Gestures
- Speech Reading (Lip Reading)
Even though American Sign Language (ASL) is not a building block, it is sometimes used together with one or more building blocks.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people — at home and abroad. CDC’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program provides information about children and hearing loss and answers some commonly asked questions. Information about the state EHDI programs is also available. For further information, please contact us at:
1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); 1-888-232-6348 (TTY)
Cochlea: The cochlea is in the inner ear. It’s a snail-shaped tube that is filled with fluid and has tiny hair cells. Sound that comes into the cochlea moves the hair cells back and forth. This turns sounds into electrical signals that are sent to the brain through the auditory (hearing) nerve.
Cochlear Implants: A cochlear implant is a surgically placed device that can help a person with severe to profound hearing loss. It gives that person a way to hear when a hearing aid is not enough. A cochlear implant sends sound signals directly to the hearing (auditory) nerve.
Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE): Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE) is a building block that people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and people who are hearing use together to communicate. Sometimes it’s called PSE or Pidgin Signed English. CASE is a building block that people who use American Sign Language (ASL) and English in the form of Manually Coded English (MCE) mix together. CASE can change based on the skills of the people using it.
Cued Speech (Building Block): Cued Speech (sometimes called “cueing”) is a building block that helps children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing better understand spoken languages. Many speech sounds look the same on the face even though the sounds are different. For instance, the words “mat”, “bat”, and “pat” look the same on the lips and mouth. When “cueing” English, the person communicating uses eight hand shapes and four places near the mouth to help the person looking tell the difference between speech sounds.
Cued Speech (Program): This is a program that teaches babies or young children that are deaf or hard of hearing how to use Cued Speech. This program includes language building blocks such as Cued Speech and Speech (Lip) Reading.
Earmold: An earmold is a plastic or silicone piece that is made to fit to a child’s ear. The earmold has a short tube that is attached to the part of the hearing aid that sits behind the child’s ear. The earmold sends sound from the hearing aid into the ear.
Family Support: Family support is anything that helps a family. This help may include advice, information, helping a parent understand the options available, having the chance to get to know other parents that have a child with hearing loss, finding childcare or transportation, giving parents time for personal relaxation, or just a supportive listener.
Finger Spelling: Finger spelling is a building block that uses hands and fingers to spell out words. Hand shapes stand for the letters in the alphabet. Finger spelling is used with many other building blocks; it is almost never used by itself.
FM Systems: An FM system is a kind of device that helps a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing. FM stands for frequency modulation. It’s the same type of signal used for radios. FM systems send sound from a microphone used by the person speaking to a baby wearing the device. This system is sometimes used with Hearing Aids . An extra piece is attached to the hearing aid that works with the FM system. This extra piece is called an “audio input boot”.
Geneticist: A professional that is trained to know about genes and the medical conditions that might be related to genetics. This includes hearing loss.
Hearing aids: Hearing aids make sounds louder and clearer. Hearing aids are be worn by people of any age — including infants. Young babies with hearing loss can better understand sounds using hearing aids. This gives them the chance to learn Speech skills right from birth.
There are many styles of hearing aids. They can help many types of hearing losses — mild, moderate, severe , and profound . Your baby’s audiologist will help you pick the best type for your baby’s hearing loss. A young child is usually fitted with behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids because they adjust better on growing ears. Behind-the-ear hearing aids come in skin tone as well as many bright colors.
Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP): An IFSP is a plan made for children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This plan is made by a child’s parents and a service coodinator. The plan outlines all of the intervention services and equipment that a family and child will need for the child and his or her hearing loss. This plan will also outline how the family will get these services and equipment. This plan is family focused — the strengths and needs of the child and family are very important when making this plan. Because each child has his or her own plan, no two plans will be the same. It is very important that the family works closely with the service coordinator and others to learn as much as possible about the intervention services available to them in order to get the most out of the IFSP process.
Inner Ear: The inner ear is made up of the snail shaped organ for hearing (called the cochlea) and the nerves that go to the brain.
- Meeting with a professional (or team) who is trained to work with children that have a hearing loss, and their families
- Working with a professional (or team) that can help a family and child learn to communicate
- Fitting a baby with a hearing device, such as a hearing aid
- Joining family support groups
- Other services available to children with a hearing loss and their families
Lip Reading: Lip reading (or speech reading) is a building block that helps a child with hearing loss understand Speech. The child watches the movements of a speaker’s mouth and face to understand what the speaker is saying. About 40% of the sounds in the English language can be seen on the lips of a speaker in good conditions — such as a well-lit room where the child can see the speaker’s face.
Listening / Auditory Training: A deaf or hard-of-hearing child may still have some hearing. This is called residual hearing . Some parents of a child with residual hearing may choose to use a building block called listening (auditory training). This building block is often used in combination with other building blocks and assistive devices such as Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants .
Manually Coded English (MCE): Manually Coded English (MCE) is made up of signs that are a visual code that stand for the words of the English language. Many of the signs (hand shapes and hand motions) in MCE are borrowed from American Sign Language (ASL) . But unlike ASL, the grammar, word order, and sentence structure of MCE are similar to the English language.
Medical Home: A medical home is not a building, house, or hospital. It’s a way of seeing that all children get good health care services. A medical home is set up when one professional takes care of a child and makes sure he or she gets all needed services.
Middle Ear: The middle ear is made up of the eardrum and three small bones (ossicles) that send the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear.
Natural Gestures: Natural gestures — or body language — are actions that parents normally do to help children understand a message. For example, if a parent wants to ask a toddler if he or she wants to be picked up, the parent might stretch out their arms and ask, “Up?” For an older child, a parent might motion with their arms to call him or her to come inside the house. Or, a parent might put their first finger over their mouth and nose to show that the child needs to be quiet.
Newborn Hearing Screening (also see Screening): An initial hearing check for newborn babies is usually performed while the mother and baby are still in the hospital, either in the nursery or in their mother’s room. Hearing screening is easy and is not painful. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes.
Ophthalmologist: A physician that is trained to know about and treat conditions related to the eyes.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): a test that measures the ear’s response to sound.
Otolaryngologist: A physician who specializes in conditions related to the ear, nose and throat.
Part C Program: (Infant and Toddler Services) One way to put together early intervention services is through a program in your state called the “Part C program”. This is a program for children from birth to 3 years of age who have or are at risk for a developmental delay (a lag in development). This sometimes includes children with hearing loss. Please ask your child’s health care provider for more information.
Pinna: (Auricle) This is the part of the ear that we see on each side of our heads. It is a part of the outer ear. The pinna collects sound and sends it down the ear canal to the rest of the ear.
Post-lingual Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that happens after a child learns to talk.
Pre-lingual Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that happens before a child learns to talk.
Screening (Newborn Hearing Screening): An initial hearing check for newborn babies, usually performed while the mother and baby are still in the hospital, either in the nursery or in their mothers’ room. Hearing screening is easy and is not painful. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that occurs when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works.
Service Coordinator: This is a professional that is assigned to help a family work through the IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan). Every family that takes part in this program is assigned a service coordinator. This professional works closely with the family to set up the services in the Part C program. The service coordinator talks with the family to learn about their concerns, resources, and priorities.
Speech: Speech is a skill that many people don’t think about. But speech is a building block . It helps build language. Parents can choose to have their children use this building block for communicating — that is, expressing themselves.
Speech is often used in combination with Hearing Aids , Cochlear Implants , and other assistive devices. Since this building block is used by the children to express themselves to other people, one or more other building blocks must be used to help the child understand others.
Speech-Language Pathologist: A speech language pathologist is a professional trained to know about how children learn language and to teach children how to use speech and language.
Speech Reading: Speech reading (lip reading) is a building block that helps a child with hearing loss to understand speech. The child watches the movements of a speaker’s mouth and face, to understand what the speaker is saying. About 40% of the sounds in the English language can be seen on the lips of a speaker in good conditions — such as a well-lit room where the child can see the speaker’s face.
Total Communication: The Total Communication program teaches babies and young children that are deaf or hard-of-hearing to use a combination of building blocks to communicate in the English language. Most Total Communication programs use some form of Simultaneous Communication (speaking and signing at the same time). This program includes building blocks such as Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE) , Finger Spelling , Listening, Manually Coded English (MCE) , Natural Gestures, Speech (Lip) Reading, and Speech.
Unilateral Hearing Loss: Hearing loss affects only one ear.
- Page last reviewed: April 11, 2018
- Page last updated: November 20, 2014
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