Children with hearing loss

Children and Hearing Loss

While hearing loss is typically associated with age-related decline, many newborns and adolescents experience it from birth or due to illness and excessive noise exposure.

In fact, hearing loss is the number one birth defect in the U.S. Most children in the U.S. receive a newborn hearing screening while still in the hospital. However, various environmental and lifestyle factors can affect a child’s hearing as they enter school or become teenagers.

The World Health Organization’s first World Report on Hearing estimates 2.5 billion people worldwide – or 1 in 4 people – will experience some degree of hearing loss by 2050.

“In children, almost 60% of hearing loss can be prevented through measures such as immunization for the prevention of rubella and meningitis, improved maternal and neonatal care, and screening for, and early management of, otitis media – inflammatory diseases of the middle ear,” the report notes.

Regular screenings and early intervention and treatment are key to detecting and correcting most diseases of the ear and associated hearing loss in both children and adults. And a range of effective options is available to improve educational access and quality of life.

  • Hearing assistive technology such as hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • Rehabilitative therapy, including speech-language therapy
  • Assistive technology such as captioning services and sign language communication
  • Sensory substitution such as speech reading

Prevalence of hearing loss in children 

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America:

  • Approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns are born deaf.
  • An estimated 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 babies in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • 15 percent of school-age children (6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.
  • An estimated 1 in 5 American teenagers experience problems with hearing.
  • 5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some degree of permanent damage from listening to loud music, typically from using earbuds at unsafe volumes.
  • Even mild hearing loss can cause a child to miss as much as 50 percent of classroom discussion.

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program provides funding for statewide EHDI programs designed to screen all babies for hearing loss before hospital discharge or by one month of age. The legislation also provides follow-up screenings and other intervention services for infants and children.

Effects of hearing loss in children

According to the American-Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), untreated hearing loss can impact a child in a variety of ways:

  • Overall development
  • Delays in speech and language communication skills
  • Socialization
  • Self-esteem
  • Mental health
  • Academic achievement
  • Employment and earnings potential

Common ways to treat hearing loss in children

The good news is children with hearing loss can live full, productive lives and learn to communicate differently. The earlier hearing problems are detected, the sooner age-appropriate intervention programs can begin.

  • Hearing devices: Hearing aids are used for mild to severe hearing loss, while cochlear implants can benefit children with deafness or total hearing loss.
  • American Sign Language: Children who learn ASL are statistically better prepared to develop speech-language skills needed for success at school and work.
  • Cued Speech: Combines hand movements with mouth shapes to make the sounds of traditional spoken language look different.
  • Auditory-oral learning: Uses your child’s natural hearing ability along with lipreading and hearing devices.
  • Speech-language therapy: Therapists provide support with managing hearing devices, selecting developmentally appropriate materials, communication, and language learning skills.
  • Assistive listening devices: Personal FM amplifiers, closed captioning, and induction loop systems improve acoustics and speech clarity.
  • Adaptive technology and instructional accommodations: Live voice readers, noise reduction, speech-to-text translation and captions, visual supplements, educational interpreter, and peer notetakers.

Ways captioning can benefit children with hearing loss

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides protections to students with hearing loss. The act ensures all children who are deaf or hard of hearing can receive free services and instructional accommodations throughout their education to age 21.

Distractions in the classroom – or an online Zoom session – can be challenging for students with hearing loss. It can be difficult to listen, focus, and read lips. This impacts a child’s ability to follow along or participate in discussions.

With a growing reliance on technology in everyday life, captioning services benefit children with hearing loss – and all learners – in several ways.

  • Using captions or subtitles has the potential to fill in the gaps for students with hearing loss.
  • Captions allow viewers to follow the dialogue in real-time or review it later via transcripts and post-production captions of recorded audio and video.
  • Captions assist those who struggle with reading and language skills.
  • Captioning helps those who are learning English as a Second Language.
  • Captions and subtitles offer advantages for all people who need to increase their literacy skills by increasing printed word exposure and comprehension skills.
  • The coronavirus pandemic forced schools, especially colleges, to deliver courses via an online format and accommodate students with disabilities. Poor internet connections, background noise, and thick accents or muffled voices are magnified over Zoom or video conferencing platforms.
  • A growing reliance on teacher-produced videos for flipped classroom instruction or online video resources from YouTube makes captions more essential.
  • Captions benefit students who are visual learners or have a mixed-learning style.
  • Many students process information better by seeing words on a screen or writing down information they hear and read.
  • Captioning can improve word recognition, word comprehension, vocabulary, listening skills, and oral reading skills.
  • Captioning improves accessibility, comprehension, and engagement for all learners.

Next steps

Families work with school officials and teachers to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to receive specialized instruction and related services. If your child struggles with hearing loss, make sure to seek out all available resources and find the best accommodations to ensure their success.

Captioning services help people with hearing loss stay engaged and succeed at work and school. Visit Caption Pros to learn more about our award-winning captioners and services.