Infants and babies who are deaf or hard of hearing generally are eligible for early intervention services. The goal of these services is to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing infants, toddlers, and children develop age-appropriate language, social skills, and cognitive skills. Qualified, specialized early intervention personnel are necessary to help achieve this goal. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing1 recommends that:
All individuals who provide services to infants with hearing loss should have training and expertise in auditory, speech, and language development; communication approaches for infants with hearing loss and their families (eg, cued speech, sign language systems including American Sign Language); and child development.
The Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf recommends that:
[Early intervention] providers should be credentialed by the early intervention system in the state in which they work. Minimally, they must have education and experience with the 0-3 population and have a degree in Deaf Education. They should know about the acquisition and development of spoken and signed language in children who are deaf and hard of hearing. They should possess the training and skills necessary to help children develop age appropriate language. They should be skilled in working with families from diverse backgrounds.
According to the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, early interventionists for deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers and their families should be able to provide families with:
- information specific to their child’s hearing loss;
- information about family activities that facilitate language development;
- information about the ways deaf and hard of hearing people communicate;
- access to peer and language models for the child and family. This could include users of a visual language, such as American Sign Language, or a spoken language; and
- information and resources for assistive listening technology.
The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing also states that early interventionists should also be able to:
- enhance the family’s understanding of its infant’s strengths and needs;
- promote the family’s ability to advocate for its infant; and
- help build family support and confidence in parenting their child.
Families should seek out early intervention programs that have professionals with these qualifications or advocate within their early intervention system to obtain these professionals.
1 Members of the Joint Committee include: American Academy of Audiology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Council on Education of the Deaf (CED member organizations include Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, American Society for Deaf Children, Association of College Educators – Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, and National Association of the Deaf), and Directors of Speech and Hearing Programs in State Health and Welfare Agencies.
Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf. (2006). Position on Early Intervention Programs for Children with Hearing Loss. www.ceasd.org
Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. (2000). Year 2000 Position Statement: Principles and Guidelines for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Programs. Pediatrics, Vol. 106 No. 4 October 2000. www.jcih.org
National Agenda for Moving Forward on Achieving Educational Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students. (2005). http://www.tsd.state.tx.us/outreach/national_agenda.html
National Association of the Deaf. (2002). Position Statement on Inclusion.