Infants begin absorbing sound before they are even born, responding to music or the sound of their mother’s voice in utero. But two to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss. Late identification and intervention for children with hearing impairments can lead to delays in speech and language, cognition, literacy, and social-emotional development, as well as a reduction in academic success. Recognizing the importance of early diagnosis and the development of new technology to support infant hearing screenings, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) drafted the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) bill in the mid-1990s, which aimed to mandate standardized testing procedures for infants to identify hearing loss earlier and mitigate these risks.
Since the federal mandate for universal newborn hearing screenings passed in 1999, the median age at which children are diagnosed with hearing loss has decreased, which significantly improves their chances of developing at the same rate as their hearing peers. In addition to developmental benefits for children, early hearing loss detection and intervention also yield significant economic benefits in the form of education cost savings and increased lifetime productivity. The ongoing commitment to research and evidence-based practices in early hearing detection and intervention programs benefits individuals, families, and society in ways that will continue to be documented in the future, as children identified and treated through EHDI programs grow and flourish throughout their lives.
We developed one-page fact sheets to make sure that we were ready for prime-time with potential advocates for our bill. We knew they had to be well-researched, so we made sure that any assertion made was supported by at least one credible citation.
– James Potter, Former Director of Advocacy, ASHA
Did you know?
Prior to 2000, less than 10% of newborns in the US were screened for hearing loss.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)