Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Hearing is one of our five senses. When hearing status is affected, a child’s ability to communicate and learn language are impacted.

One of the most important things that can help a child is early detection of hearing status, followed by early intervention services. Early detection and identification of hearing level can be performed by a basic hearing test given to a child by a pediatric audiologist. Newborn screenings are mandated as part of the newborn screening program and are provided by the birth hospital or other medical professional in charge of a newborn. It is important for families to follow up if a screening indicates further hearing testing is needed.

When hearing loss* goes undetected, children are delayed in developing communication skills. Hearing loss can vary greatly among children and can be caused by many things.

*The term “hearing loss” is often used to describe the result of a barrier or interruption of sound to the brain. However, words can unintentionally cause hurt or offense. It is respectful and appropriate to say a child has been identified as Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). Hearing status and hearing level are other ways to describe a child’s hearing.

What help is available?

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program provides a parent guide, through Guide By Your Side, to support parents of children identified as Deaf or Hard of Hearing and helps them locate resources.

The Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) is a valuable resource for families. MDE-LIO provides technical assistance and resources to enable local service providers to serve and improve the quality of education for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and/or Blind/Visually Impaired including those with multiple disabilities. The DHH Family Support and Service Delivery Tools provide valuable resources to support language and communication development.

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center provides links to resources designed for families raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers resources and information to families:

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

Students who are deaf/ hard of hearing may receive special education services under the eligibility category of Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Accommodations and modifications are part of the IEP process.

Visit our webpage for more info on the IEP process

What are the educational options for a child who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing?

There is choice within the law. IDEA requires students to be educated in the least restrictive environment with non-disabled peers, but it also requires the IEP team to consider the communication needs of the child. The decision as to what placement will provide a free and appropriate public education for an individual child who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing can only be made after an IEP addressing the full range of the child’s needs has been developed. Section 300.324 of IDEA – Development, review and revision of IEP, outlines the consideration of special factors in considering the communication needs of a child who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The law also requires parents be an equal part of the IEP process. There are mainstream schools that have programs serving students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

More info on placement:

Is there some technology that can help my child?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Students who are Deaf of Hard of Hearing may use personal listening devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, as well as additional hearing assistive technology (HAT) determined by the IEP team. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

Where can I find support?

In Michigan:


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