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28 Things Parents of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Kids Should Know


According to Gallaudet University, about two to four of every 1,000 people in the United States are “functionally deaf,” though more than half became deaf relatively late in life; fewer than one out of every 1,000 people in the United States became deaf before 18 years of age.

1. Ninety percent of Deaf or hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents.

2. Deafness is a spectrum, much like autism, and a person who has a mild hearing loss may identify as Deaf, and a person with a severe hearing loss may identify as hard of hearing. It depends on the individual’s unique experience and their surroundings.

3. Not all school districts offer Deaf and hard of hearing services. Frequently, to obtain the educational services by a teacher certified in Deaf Education, students must be sent outside of their home district for services.

4. Not all school districts are forthright with parents about their child’s educational needs and options. In most situations, it costs the student’s home district tuition and transportation costs to send that child to another district that does offer the appropriate services and accommodations.

5. The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) clearly defines the unique educational needs of Deaf and hard of hearing students in Section 504, titled, “Special Considerations for Deaf and hard of hearing students” which all parents of a DHH Child should read and understand as it is Federal Law.

6. Many, if not most Special Education professionals are not trained in Deaf education, as most states require specific requirements for teachers of the Deaf and hard of hearing.

7. Profoundly Deaf students are more likely to be referred for services than their hard of hearing counterparts.

8. Children with a mild to moderate hearing loss are more likely to report feelings of isolation than their profoundly Deaf peers. These are the children that are more likely to fall through the cracks, according to the American Academy for Speech and Hearing Loss Association (ASHA).

9. Due to the lack of knowledge about the unique educational and social requirements of Deaf and hard of hearing students, some children are wrongly labeled as cognitively impaired, when in fact they lack access to a key component of learning and communication. This misplacement can be detrimental to the educational and social development of a Deaf or hard of hearing child who is already at risk academically and socially.

10. Deaf culture is a real thing and it needs to be recognized and embraced. According to Healthy Hearing, “Members of the Deaf community in America use a different language — literally. Not only does their language — American Sign Language (ASL) — connect them to others who are Deaf, it also serves as a membership card into a linguistic subculture of our society that not everyone is privileged to enjoy.”

11. ASL is a beautiful language that can be taught to all babies as early as 6 months old. Using signs allows your baby to express him or herself with gestures before he or she can speak with words. Research shows that this can help your baby learn to speak with words sooner. But if you don’t use it, you lose it.

12. ASL is the third most commonly used language in North America and can often be taken as a foreign language requirement.

13. Hearing aids are expensive and often are not covered by private insurance because they are considered a “luxury” item and not a medical necessity. About 21 states have legislation mandating that private insurance cover a portion, if not all the cost of hearing aids for children under the age of 18.

14. Hearing aids do more than just amplify sound. They also filter out background noise and help individuals to process speech more quickly.

15. Many hard of hearing individuals have a “slow processing speed.” It takes them longer to comprehend directions and begin a new task. Processing speed does not coordinate with intelligence.

16. There are four types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, mixed and neural.

  • Conductive Loss: Any problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted properly is known as a conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing losses are usually mild or moderate in degree, ranging from 25 to 65 decibels.
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea and is usually permanent. Also known as “nerve deafness,” sensorineural hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: A combination of a sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It results from problems in both the inner and outer or middle ear. Treatment options may include medication, surgery, or hearing aids. A problem that results from the absence of or damage to the auditory nerve can cause a neural hearing loss.
  • Neural Hearing Loss is usually profound and permanent.

17. Cochlear implants do not provide “realistic sound.” In fact, it can take up to a year of training with an audiologist for a Deaf or hard of hearing person to be able to interpret the sounds they are hearing.

18. Individuals who have never had hearing tend to adjust better to implants than do individuals who have some hearing or were hearing in the past.

19. Bone anchored hearing aids are an option for hard of hearing individuals who have a conductive hearing loss, but if the individual has some hearing, they report what sounds they do hear as “tinny.” Because of this, some people will choose to go back to
using hearing aids.

20. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals are at a much higher risk for depression, anxiety, incarceration, unemployment, addiction and suicide than their hearing peers.

21. The average reading level of an individual who did not receive appropriate interventions and/or amplification as a young child is only fourth grade.

22. Some Deaf individuals speak, and others do not. It’s very difficult to learn to speak when you have never heard language in your lifetime.

23. Children will most often not report difficult hearing because they do not know what they are not hearing. Hearing loss becomes “their normal.”

24. Frequently Deaf and hard of hearing children will develop compensatory strategies, including lip reading or shadowing the actions of their hearing peers. These children are frequently labeled as lazy, stubborn, slow, or even defiant when in fact, they can’t hear classroom instructions.

25. Children with hearing loss may struggle with social skills and relationships, because early in life, they often don’t experience “passive learning.” Hearing children learn social skills by simply eavesdropping on the conversations of others around them.

26. Medical professionals who treat Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, including physicians, nurses and audiologists typically do not know ASL and often are not familiar with Deaf culture.

27. Many individuals who or Deaf or hard of hearing do not wish to be called “hearing impaired” as it is considered derogatory or implies that an individual is somehow “less than” hearing individuals.

28. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals can do many of the same things that hearing people do, such as dance, play a musical instrument, drive, attend college and have a career. They are only limited by society’s expectations.

Getty image by wckiw