Thursday, December 19, 2013

Give the Gift of Hearing!

Tis the season to spread Christmas cheer! When you're thinking about donating to your charities of choice this year, consider donating to one of the many wonderful hearing health organizations making a difference in the lives of people around the world:

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Noisy Toy List

It's that time of year again! This year's Noisy Toy list finds 7 out of 18 toys tested produce sound over 100 decibels (dB), which is enough to cause permanent hearing loss in less than 15 minutes.

Make sure your child's toy isn't on this years list!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Your health impacts your hearing

Many health conditions that are common in the United States such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune disorders and stroke can impact your hearing. If you have been diagnosed with or have a history of one of the conditions listed, it would be recommended that you have your hearing evaluated annually.

Our ears are just as susceptible to these conditions as other parts of our body. In general, anything that is good for your body such as diet and exercise is good for your hearing as well. As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on getting our eyes, teeth and overall health checked, but we can't forget about our ears. The next time you are at your physician's office ask to be referred for a baseline hearing evaluation. Regular monitoring of hearing ability should be included in every physical examination.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Washington Hearing Organizations Warn Consumers

Press Release from 9/27/13:

The Washington State Academy of Audiology (WSAA), Washington Speech-Language Hearing Association (WSLHA), Washington Hearing Society (WHS) and the Northwest Academy of Otolaryngology (NWAO) have joined forces to help inform Washington consumers on the importance of seeking professional hearing care.

Growing concern over the unlicensed sale of hearing aids over the counter or through the mail, often without warning consumers, has prompted Washington's hearing health organizations to issue the public statement.
Unlike personal amplifiers, which are not intended to treat hearing loss, hearing aids are medical devices and are therefore subject to state and federal regulations in order to protect consumers. Washington, like most states, requires that hearing aids be evaluated and fit by a licensed professional. Professionals licensed to dispense hearing aids include: Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Specialists and Otolaryngologists (ENT physicians).

All four Washington hearing-health organizations hold serious health and safety concerns about the sale of hearing aids without examination and guidance by licensed professionals. They strongly encourage the estimated 700,000 people with hearing loss in the state of Washington and their families, to seek the advice of a state licensed professional, to ensure they are receiving the most appropriate care.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Seattle Seahawks fans attempt to break loudest stadium record, what can fans do to protect their hearing?

Seattle Seahawk fans will attempt to break a world record for the loudest stadium in the world this Sunday. The record sound level is 131 decibels, which is like standing next to a jet engine. So how can fans protect their ears, watch this video from King 5 news to learn more.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Starkey Hearing Foundation Benefits from Vikings TDs

In an effort to help educate young people on this issue, Starkey Hearing Foundation created the“Listen Carefully program to encourage youth to protect their hearing. In the last year, the Foundation distributed more than 16,000 Listen Carefully teaching guides to schools. These guides focus on the science of hearing and encourage students to put the lessons into practice.
Vikings fans will be encouraged to “Listen Carefully” through radio spots and game day program messaging at Vikings home games throughout the 2013 season. Fans will also be provided Starkey branded ear protection prior to all home games at Mall of America Field.
In addition, for each touchdown scored by reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson and All-Pro wide receiver Greg Jennings, the Vikings will donate $500 to Starkey Hearing Foundation to give the gift of hearing to people in need around the world and right here at home. The team will present the Starkey Hearing Foundation with a check during one of the final home games of the 2013 season.
In 2011, Peterson joined the Foundation on a mission trip to Uganda while Jennings helped give the gift of hearing in New Orleans (2013) and Tanzania (2012). Watch a video below that  features both of these players talk about how their work with the Starkey Hearing Foundation.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Guidlines for Pressure Equalization Tubes in Children

Most of us can remember a friend or maybe even ourselves not being able to go swimming as a kid due to having ear tubes. This longstanding treatment for middle ear fluid has received some attention recently with new guidlines being published about appropriate use of ear tubes. Children who have middle ear fluid for less than three months will not be considered for tubes. If the middle ear fluid is present for longer than three months, then the child may be considered a candidate for tubes if the condition is impacting there development (speech or cognitiive). The most surprising new guidline is that children with ear tubes will generally not need to wear swim plugs when swimming or bathing. Here is the link if you would like a more detailed overview:

Here is what an actual ear tube looks like inserted into the eardrum:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spotify to donate to Starkey Hearing Foundation

Refer a Friend to Spotify & Give the Gift of Hearing

For every referral, (thru 9/2), Spotify will donate $1 to Starkey Hearing Foundation

Check out the LSTN Headphone’s “Giving Back. Amplified.” program!

Invite your friends to join Spotify to help give the gift of hearing.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Newborn hearing screening is effective, but still presents with flaws

A recent study, indicated that newborn hearing screenings have proven to be highly effective at identifying children with hearing loss, but children with slight or mild hearing loss may pass the screening at birth. Children who have late onset hearing loss may also pass the newborn hearing screening initially. Newborn hearing screenings can provide a false sense of security, but it's important to note how effective this program has been since it was implemented. A key recommendation for parents is to have an audiological evaluation for any concerns regarding speech and language delays. Here is the link for a more in-depth overview of the study:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How Do We Know What a Kid With Hearing Loss Needs In School?

Everyone who works with children with hearing loss knows that, even with all  the great technology that  is available  today, kids still need help.  Because the technology is so good, school staff members sometimes think that kids do not need any  help. I have had school staff tell me that now that a  child has a cochlear implant he is no  longer disabled. Well, he  is  certainly much better than he  was before he received an implant, but it  is really important to understand that he is still not normal hearing.
Hearing in the classroom
Even if a child is hearing well, a child with hearing loss is listening through a damaged auditory system. We know that a child with hearing loss needs four times the repetition to learn. So we know that in a classroom situation, a child with  hearing  loss  will need to hear everything multiple times to get  the message. What does this tell us about how a child  is  learning? It tells us that we need to be sure a child has the  information he needs to follow  classroom discussion. To me this means that a  child needs preview and review by a person who  has academic skills.  Usually this  is  a teacher of children with  hearing loss. It may be a speech-language pathologist who provides the service, and this can work  well for young children, but may not be optimal for older children where academic material is more difficult. The SLP will also be responsible  for teaching all  speech and language skills so, if the SLP is responsible  for preview and review, more time needs to be allotted to service provision.
Looking at test results
When reviewing evaluations it is important to look at all subtests. People frequently look at the total score and, if a child seems to be doing well, they make a determination that no services are needed. However, it is very valuable to look at all subtests and see areas in which a child is either below average or scores more poorly than in other areas. For example, if a child is within normal limits on  the overall test but is performing poorly on auditory memory tests, it indicates that she will need therapy to address auditory memory skills even if her overall score is good.

Comparing test results with other kids in the class
It is important to compare kids with other kids in the same school, not  just with kids in the standardized test pool. This is especially important for child in high achieving school districts. Kids need to compete with the kids around them. So we need  to pay attention to how kids are performing and  work  hard to keep them there. As long as we pay good attention we will succeed in helping kids be the best they can be.

Adapted from a post by Jane Madell at HHTM (August 7, 2012)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hearing loss in children is often associated with balance disorders

Due to the anatomical link between the hearing and balance system, it may not be a surprise that hearing loss and balance dysfunction are often coexisting conditions. Children who have been diagnosed with hearing loss are at higher risk for balance disorders, this is often an overlooked area in the evaluation and treatment of hearing loss. Audiologists and physical therapists can provide pediatric balance evaluations to determine if a balance disorder is concurrently present with the diagnosis of hearing loss.

Source: Google images

More awareness is being brought to this area and in the future balance screenings may be more widely used as a tool to ensure proper development of our all important balance system. For more in-depth information click the link below to access an overview of pediatric balance disorders from the Vestibular Disorders Association:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Head of Starkey Hearing Foundation will match donations up to $100,000

Today, Bill Austin announced that he will match donations up to $100,000.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to reflect caring and help people reach their full potential. More than 360 million people worldwide have a disabling hearing loss, yet many do not have access to the hearing care that can help them. They have helped develop sustainable systems of hearing care globally, fit and given more than 100,000 hearing aids to people in need each year, and have worked in over 100 countries. 
Starkey Hearing Foundation

Please pass along the message and consider donating today:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Worst Noises in the World

The worst noises in the world: Why we recoil at unpleasant sounds

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Newcastle University scientists reveal the interaction between the region of the brain that processes sound, the auditory cortex, and the amygdala, which is active in the processing of negative emotions when we hear unpleasant sounds.
Brain imaging has shown that when we hear an unpleasant noise the amygdala modulates the response of the auditory cortex heightening activity and provoking our negative reaction.
"It appears there is something very primitive kicking in," says Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, the paper's author from Newcastle University. "It's a possible distress signal from the amygdala to the auditory cortex."
Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL and Newcastle University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how the brains of 13 volunteers responded to a range of sounds. Listening to the noises inside the scanner they rated them from the most unpleasant - the sound of knife on a bottle – to pleasing - bubbling water. Researchers were then able to study the brain response to each type of sound.
Professor Tim Griffiths from Newcastle University, who led the study, says: "This work sheds new light on the interaction of the amygdala and the auditory cortex. This might be a new inroad into emotional disorders and disorders like tinnitus and migraine in which there seems to be heightened perception of the unpleasant aspects of sounds."

Rating 74 sounds, people found the most unpleasant noises to be:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Fork on a glass
3. Chalk on a blackboard
4. Ruler on a bottle
5. Nails on a blackboard
6. Female scream
7. Anglegrinder
8. Brakes on a cycle squealing
9. Baby crying
10. Electric drill

1. Applause
2. Baby laughing
3. Thunder

4. Water flowing

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Students with hearing loss face educational barriers

American deaf and hard of hearing K-12 students face major barriers and challenges while trying to get an education, says a new report by the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University

The five barriers identified were: 

1.A lack of knowledge about hearing loss among professionals, caregivers and the public

2.A lack of collaboration between these groups

3.Unqualified professionals and service providers

4.A lack of accommodation in the school system

5.Not enough focus on the child's self-development

read more here:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Major psychiatric disorders share common genetic risk factors

For the first time, scientists have discovered that five major psychiatric disorders—autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia—share several common genetic risk factors.  In particular, variations in two genes involved in the balance of calcium in brain cells are implicated in several of these disorders and could be a target for new treatments. The findings from the largest ever genetic study of psychiatric illness, published Online First in The Lancet, may help to one day reclassify these disorders on the basis of causes rather than descriptive syndromes.
According to Smoller, “Significant progress has been made in understanding the genetic risk factors underlying psychiatric disorders. Our results provide new evidence that may inform a move beyond descriptive syndromes in psychiatry and towards classification based on underlying causes. These findings are particularly relevant in view of the imminent revision of classifications in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).”*
Writing in a linked Comment, Alessandro Serretti and Chiara Fabbri from the University of Bologna in Italy say, “the present study might contribute to future nosographic [classification] systems, which could be based not only on statistically determined clinical categories, but also on biological pathogenic factors that are pivotal to the identification of suitable treatments.”
They add, “genetics…can contribute to prediction and prevention of psychiatric diseases, along with the identification of molecular targets for new generations of psychotropic drugs.”

Read full story here:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 120/60 Rule

Source: Google Images


Here is a simple rule to follow when using your iPod to ensure that you are listening at safe volume levels. Listening to your iPod for 120 minutes per day at 60% volume level is a good rule of thumb to follow. These guidelines are easy to follow and still allow you to listen to music at a safe level. If we keep our ears safe consistently while using this basic rule, we can continue to enjoy music for many years to come.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How Many Hours a Day Does a Child Need to Hear?

by Jane Maddell at HHTM:

We know, for sure, that kids need to hear all day long in order to learn language, and to be ready to read. Typical hearing kids hear 24 hours a day. Children with hearing loss hear only when they have their technology on.

Here is what else we know:
  • Typical children hear 46 million words by age 4 years
  • Children need 20,000 hours of listening to learn to read. (That would mean listening for 12 hour days for 1,667 days)
  • Children with hearing loss require three times the exposure to learn new words and concepts.

So, what does this mean for a child with hearing loss?
If a child wears hearing aids 4 hours a day, it will take 6 years for the child to hear what a typical child who does not need hearing aids hears in one year. That means that the child with hearing loss will have significantly less auditory input, resulting in less language exposure, which will result in poorer language and poorer reading. What can we do to change this outcome? We need to help families to keep hearing aids and other technology on their child’s head. For children with hearing loss, time is of the essence. There is no turning back. We cannot make up for lost listening time when the child is older. When children do not receive sufficient auditory exposure, the auditory portion of the brain will shrink and the visual cortex will expand to take over the area usually associated with audition.


Read the full story at:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ear Infections in Children

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear, usually caused by bacteria, that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Anyone can get an ear infection, but children get them more often than adults. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor.

How can I tell if my child has an ear infection?
Image Source:

Most ear infections happen to children before they’ve learned how to talk. If your child isn’t old enough to say “My ear hurts,” here are a few things to look for:

  • Tugging or pulling at the ear(s)
  • Fussiness and crying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever (especially in infants and younger children)
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Clumsiness or problems with balance
  • Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds

Friday, May 3, 2013

How loud is your iPod?

In the era of smart phones and wireless technology, we are increasingly putting headphones in our ears to listen to music and other media. How do you know when the music you are listening to through your headphones is too loud?

One way to test to ensure that your device is not set too loud is to hold the headphones at arm's length away, if you can hear the music it is too loud. If you have a  friend or family member sitting next to you, you could ask them if they can hear the music, if the answer is yes, the music is to loud. These are some quick and easy strategies to ensure that your hearing is protected even while enjoying your favorite band. Some smart phones come with applications that monitor the decibel level of the music you are listening to, if you have this application aim to keep the music level below 80 decibels. We often forget how easy it can be to damage our hearing while doing something as simple as using an iPod or smart phone, however, over time this can have a signifiant impact on hearing health. Next time you are streaming music from your phone or iPod, try one of the simple tests discussed above and you may be surprised as to how much the volume needs to be reduced in order to be at safe listening levels.

Source: Google images

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hearing Health

We are advised to schedule annual physicals, vision exams, dental exams and the list goes on, but why aren't we advised to have our hearing evaluated on a consistent basis?

Image Source: Wikipedia
Hearing tends to be the forgotten exam of health care, but it is an important step to take towards ensuring that all aspects of your health are being evaluated. We tend to pay attention to hearing only when it becomes a problem, but early intervention can be key to reducing the impact that hearing problems can have over the course of a lifetime. Our hearing can be greatly impacted by many health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease; monitoring hearing levels can provide insight into other potential health conditions that may not have been identified. Scheduling a hearing exam to establish a baseline measurement of your hearing is the first step, if your hearing is normal returning for an exam every 2-3 years may be good starting point. For those with an established hearing problem, it would be recommended to have an exam every year or follow the recommendations of your audiologist. Early identification and management of hearing problems should be a priority by making hearing exams a regular part of routine health check-ups.

Common Hearing Loss Myths

 "Hearing loss affects only old people and is merely a sign of aging."

Only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64. There are close to six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and more than one million are school age. Hearing loss affects all age groups.

"If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me."

Not true! Only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem.

"My hearing loss is normal for my age."

Isn't this a strange way to look at things? But, do you realize that well-meaning doctors tell this to their patients every day? It happens to be "normal" for overweight people to have high blood pressure. That doesn't mean they should not receive treatment for the problem.

"The consequences of hiding hearing loss are better than wearing hearing aids."

What price are you paying for vanity? Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than hearing aids. If you miss a punch line to a joke, or respond inappropriately in conversation, people may have concerns about your mental acuity, your attention span or your ability to communicate effectively. The personal consequences of vanity can be life altering. At a simplistic level, untreated hearing loss means giving up some of the pleasant sounds you used to enjoy. At a deeper level, vanity could severely reduce the quality of your life.

"Only people with serious hearing loss need hearing aids."

The need for hearing amplification is dependent on your lifestyle, your need for refined hearing, and the degree of your hearing loss. If you are a lawyer, teacher or a group psychotherapist, where very refined hearing is necessary to discern the nuances of human communication, then even a mild hearing loss can be intolerable. If you live in a rural area by yourself and seldom socialize, then perhaps you are someone who is tolerant of even moderate hearing losses.

"Hearing aids will make everything sound too loud."

Hearing aids are amplifiers. At one time, the way that hearing aids were designed, it was necessary to turn up the power in order to hear soft speech (or other soft sounds). Then, normal conversation indeed would have been too loud. With today's hearing aids, however, the circuit works automatically, only providing the amount of amplification needed based on the input level. In fact, many hearing aids today don't have a volume control.

**From the Better Hearing Institute

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Horizons for Single Sided Deafness in Children

Single sided deafness is a difficult condition to treat in both children and adults. Single sided deafness has been traditionally treated with a CROS hearing aid (transmitter rests on the deaf ear and sends sound to the better ear via a wireless signal), BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid, which functions similar to a CROS, but requires surgery and sends the sound to the better ear via vibrations of the bone), and traditional hearing aids. Some patients respond well to these options, but understanding speech in background noise and determining where sound is coming from is always a challenge for these patients. Recent research using cochlear implants for single sided deafness has been surfacing and the benefits are very encouraging. In a recent study published in Otology and Neurotology, children were evaluated one year after a cochlear implant was placed in the worse ear. The results suggested improved speech understanding in noisy environments, better localization of sound and some benefits associated with being able to hear with both ears. For more information, please click on the link:

Example of a cochlear implant (source: cochlear implant images on Google)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Newborns and the Sound of Music

A great post by Marshall Chasin at HHTM:

Image Source: Wikipedia
"In an online version of the journal Pediatrics ( for April 15, 2013, more evidence was found that the sound of music could be beneficial for newborns. It was found that premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who had respiratory difficulties did slightly better when presented with recorded sounds of what their mother’s voice would have sounded like in the womb. Similar findings were found whenever the mother or father sang to them. The heart rate of these infants slowed by 2-3 beats a minute while listening to these sounds.
Specifically, from data acquired at 11 NICUs that had music therapists employed, for 272 premature infants, over a two-week period, a number of vital signs were recorded. It turns out that the reduction in heart rate was the same whether the low-frequency sound was provided by a music therapist’s device or by the voice of the parents.
This is more evidence that music (singing) can be beneficial for even our youngest members of society. For years, parents have been told to talk to their unborn and newborn children in hopes of developing early bonds.

... "
Read the full post on HHTM: Infants and The Vowel U

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why do newborns need their hearing screened?

The early detection and intervention of hearing problems in a child is critical to that child's future success. Studies have shown that children with hearing loss who receive appropriate early intervention services by age 6 months usually develop good language and learning skills.

Newborn on yellow blanket being attended to by a nurse
Image source: Wikipedia
Some parents think they would easily be able to tell if their baby cannot hear. However, this is not always true. Babies may respond to noise by startling or turning their heads toward the sound. This does not mean they have normal hearing. Most babies with hearing loss can hear some sounds but still not hear enough to develop full speaking ability.

Your baby will have the best chance for normal language development if a hearing loss is discovered and treatment begins by the age of 6 months.

So how exactly do you test a baby's hearing?

The 2 primary methods are:

  • Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)—This test measures how the hearing nerve responds to sound. Clicks or tones are played through soft earphones into the baby's ears. Three electrodes placed on the baby's head measure the hearing nerve's response.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)—This test measures sound waves produced in the inner ear. A tiny probe is placed just inside the baby's ear canal. It measures the response (echo) when clicks or tones are played into the baby's ears.
Both of these tests only take a few minutes and can often be performed while your baby is sleeping or lying still. Depending upon where your child is delivered, one or both of these tests may be performed.

If you have any concerns about your child's hearing or delays in speech/language development, be certain to follow-up with your pediatrician and get a referral to a licensed audiologist.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jacob's Ride: Cross-Country Tour to Fund Hearing Devices

A 24-year-old hearing-impaired baseball fan from Annapolis, Md., hopes to raise $1 million to help others facing hearing loss, so they too can experience in what he calls his “miracle,” the cochlear implant performed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1999 that restored much of his hearing when he was 10 years old.

The young pizza baker, Jacob Landis, is placing a constructive hold on his college plans while he combines his passion for America’s national pastime with his love of bicycling so that he can give back to people like him. His personal mission: to raise funds while bicycling to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums during the 2013 season.
Image Source: Wikipedia
All told, Landis’ charity bike ride will take six months, and cover more than 10,500 miles in 175 days, he says. His million-dollar goal is designed to benefit those who need financial support to purchase a cochlear implant, or other kind of hearing-assist device, including hearing aids. Landis says that modern hearing devices like his, recently upgraded to include a remote-controlled computer that rests behind his ear, in addition to language rehabilitation therapy, needed especially by children, can cost upwards of $100,000, a sum he knows is beyond the health insurance coverage and resources of many families.

Donations to Jacobs Ride can be made through his website,, his Facebook page, and through text message and mobile phone announcements at all stadiums he visits, as well as with bike team sponsorships and fund-raising events planned along the ride route.

All proceeds will benefit The Gift of Hearing Foundation in Narragansett, R.I.; The Listening Center in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; and the J.W. Pickle Foundation in Nashville, Tenn.

“Hearing loss is a prevalent medical condition with serious psychosocial consequences for many as 32 million infants, children and adults in the United States,” says Howard Francis, M.D., an associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins and director of The Listening Center. “Jacob’s Ride is important to raising awareness about the condition and, I think, in celebrating his success in overcoming a debilitating condition that restricts achievement and social connection in the hearing world. I can only hope that many other people will be inspired by his young spirit and courage in what will certainly be a physically grueling and emotionally taxing national tour.”

For additional information, please go to:!/JacobsRide2013?fref=ts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Know the Signs: Infants & Hearing Loss

If you have concerns about your child's hearing, schedule a follow-up appointment with an audiologist to have his or her hearing checked again.

a baby getting a hearing screening
Image Source:
Audiologists are the primary healthcare professionals that evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in children and adults.

An infant with normal hearing should be able to do the following*:

Around two months of age:

  • Startles to loud sound
  • Quiets to familiar voices
  • Makes vowel sounds like “ohh”

Around four months of age

  • Starts babbling
  • Looks for sound sources
  • Makes squeals and chuckles

Around six months of age

  • Turns head toward loud sounds
  • Begins to imitate speech sound
  • Babbles sounds like “ba-ba”

Around nine months of age

  • Imitates speech sounds of others
  • Understands “no-no” or “bye-bye”
  • Turns head toward soft sounds

Around 12 months of age

  • Correctly uses “ma-ma” or “da-da”
  • Gives toy when asked
  • Responds to singing or music

*Source: American Academy of Audiology

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nearly half say cost a barrier to services

In a recent survey, half of parents (47%) indicate hearing aid cost was a barrier to getting the necessary services for their hearing impaired child. This was highlighted as a critical issue due to so few insurances plans providing coverage for hearing aids and that frequently those that do provide coverage don't provide an adequate amount.

Image courtesy S. Miles at

Quotes from parents involved in the study:

"The reason for the huge gap between diagnosis and obtaining hearing aids was because it took me that long to save enough money to buy them"
"We have good private insurance... [but] the coverage for hearing aids is miserable--$500 every three years"

" the time he's in college we'll have invested $20,000."

 "I'm angry that our child cannot get help from our insurance company [for a condition] that affects his physical, academic, social and emotional health!"

"Can't get hearing aids due to the cost, they aren't covered by anything"


Barwick, K, Muñoz, K, & Blaiser, K. (2012). Parent's Experiences With Pediatric Hearing Aids. ASHA Leader.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Global Foundation for Children With Hearing Loss

Want to learn more about a great organization helping children with hearing loss. Check out this post by Paige Stringer at the HHTM blogs:

"I was born with a severe to profound hearing loss and rely on a pair of hearing aids to bring sound into my life. My work requires me to travel a great deal and I certainly can sleep very well anywhere in the world no matter how close the hotel room is to the elevator. That said, I am grateful that I can listen and talk. Hearing is fundamental to language. Language is what connects us to other people and is the foundation of everything we do in life."
"My hearing loss was identified when I was very young and I was provided with hearing aids and support services in the United States during the crucial early years of my development. This support enabled me to learn to communicate through spoken language and grow up to participate fully in our hearing society. It did not seem right to me that many children with hearing loss in other parts of the world would not have same opportunities in life simply because of where they are born. I founded the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss to help change that. The Global Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps children with hearing loss in developing and emerging countries access the hearing technology, educational support, and resources they need to reach their potential in our hearing world. Since 2010, the Global Foundation has been working to provide support to children with hearing loss in Vietnam."

Read the complete story at:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hearing Aid Tax Credit Legislation Reintroduced

Image Source: Wikipedia
Reps Tom Latham (R-IA) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) along with 8 other co-sponsors reintroduced the Hearing Aid Tax Credit on March 21, and they plan to work to insure that the legislation is considered during this Congress when major federal tax reform is likely. The bi-partisan bill (HR 1317) is similar to legislation considered in the past, although it would provide a tax benefit to people of all ages, whereas earlier bills were restricted to children and people 55 and older. HIA and HLAA members formed teams to meet with over 80 Senators, Representatives and staffers during Hearing on the Hill on Feb. 28 to support the reintroduction effort. Teams from ADA, ASHA and IHS also supported the effort by meeting with Congressional staff both during Hearing on the Hill and in early March.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Costs revisited: So what does it cost to add hearing aid coverage?

Several states have published research findings about the financial impact to insured residents as a result of offering hearing aid insurance benefits to children. A few cents today could not only help improve the lives of children with hearing loss, but has the potential to save local schools and tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here's just a few examples:

North Carolina: $0.03 per month increase in insurance premium on insured residents.

California: $0.03 per month average increase in health insurance premium increase

Wisconsin: $0.17 cents per privately insured person, per month for hearing aids and cochlear implants.

South Carolina: proposed legislation is estimated at $0.35 annually or approximately $0.03 per month increase in premiums.

Pay this today...                                                               ...or pay this later**:
**Children who do not receive early intervention cost schools an additional $420,000 and are faced with overall lifetime costs of $1 million in special education, lost wages, and health complications, according to a 1995 study published in the "International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology." The Department of Education indicates that over 70,000 students, ages 6-21, received special education services in 2002 alone, due to their hearing loss.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bloomberg tackles earbuds in NYC

New York City's mayor has already raised eyebrows with his crack downs on smoking, trans fats and most recently--the controversial ban on large sugary drinks. Now the mayor wants kids to "turn down the volume" on their iPods and music players. The mayor hopes a new social media campaign will help spread awareness of the risk for permanent hearing loss from listening to loud music.

Image source: Wikipedia
From the New York Post:
“With public and private support, a public-education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use of personal music players . . . and risks of loud and long listening,” said Nancy Clark, the city Health Department’s assistant commissioner of environmental-disease prevention.
The campaign, which will cost $250,000, is being financed through a grant received from the Fund for Public Health, the Health Department’s fund-raising arm.
The Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign will target teens and young adults, conducting focus-group interviews and using social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Bloomberg has had a bug about ear-splitting rackets since taking office at City Hall, making noise reduction one of his key quality-of-life initiatives. In 2005, he signed a law — “Operation Silent Night” — overhauling the noise code. It cracked down on jolting jackhammer sounds at construction sites and on music blaring out of clubs, helping “make New York quieter and more liveable.”
Read the full story:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Room for optimism, despite setback

We would first like to thank everyone that helped support efforts to pass HB 1356 this year and those who have helped bring light to this important issue. It is our belief that this bill may not have even been introduced into committee, had it not been for the persistence of our supporters. In fact, as a result of efforts to raise awareness of this bill, several different organizations now support the idea of insurance coverage for hearing aids, including the recent endorsement from the WA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Despite HB 1356 not progressing forward during this session, we have a lot of room to be optimistic about the future of this type of legislation. This year was particularly difficult, due recent (controversial) changes in our national healthcare system, so many lawmakers have feared even entertaining the idea of an "insurance mandate" this year. However, we know that providing coverage for hearing aids is not just another "insurance mandate", it's the right thing to do.

As we've said before: Good hearing is not a luxury, it's a necessity!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let Our Children Hear

Great post by our friend Heather Segars at "The Not So Super Mama" Blog:

"Did you know that hearing aids aren’t covered by insurance in most states? Did you know that hearing aids cost about $2500 each and need to be replaced every 3-5 years, especially for children?  [...]
"These costs add up quickly for families of children with hearing loss, especially when you are paying for other therapies and issues that your child might be dealing with."
"We have the best insurance out there, and none of this is covered."
Please read the full post on her blog:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Don't let HB 1356 get the ax!

Dear Supporters,
We have been waiting anxiously for a committee hearing on HB 1356, which is the first step any legislation must go through before it can go before the House for a vote. If a hearing is not scheduled by Friday, February 22nd, the bill will be effectively dead for this 2013 legislative session.
We urgently need every one of our supporters to contact the Health & Wellness Committee members ASAP!

Please urge Committee Chair, Eileen Cody, and other members of the Health & Wellness Committee to allow a hearing on this critical legislation. Thank you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Economic and Business Perspective

In 2012, Massachusetts became the 20th state to require insurers to cover hearing aids for children. Their legislation would serve as an excellent model for Washington and any other state looking to pass this type of legislation.

Image Source: Wikipedia
However, the discussion of politics is often inevitable when it comes to any type of mandate or requirements for insurance coverage--especially considering the debate and controversy surrounding the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of your political persuasion, you may appreciate a business person's perspective on why a hearing aid mandate (at least for children) is a good thing:

"Health care reform opponents hate the idea of mandated benefits. From a free market purist’s standpoint it’s a bad idea to tell health insurers what they need to include in their products because it will tend to drive up costs and interfere with the ability of suppliers to meet market demand. This opposition to mandated benefits is a major reason that so many in the GOP are enamored of the idea of allowing health plans to sell policies across state lines."

"As someone with an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA, I really and truly do understand this free market argument and am sympathetic to it. But it’s important to take more than free market orthodoxy into account when making policy decisions..."

Read more at:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Legislature introduces online commenting system

From the Seattle Times Blog by Amelia Dickinson:
Citizens have another way to interact with their legislators thanks to a new online commenting system launched last week.
Instead of having to determine which legislators serve their district and tracking down an email address or phone number, constituents can simply click a “comment on this bill” link on the bill’s webpage. They will be directed to a page where they can input their email and home addresses. The website automatically will determine the constituent’s district and send a message to the corresponding legislators.
If you feel as strongly as we do that hearing loss is a condition that deserves covered treatment and that people (especially children) with hearing loss should have some form of insurance coverage for hearing aids, then please click below:

Link to comment on HB 1356:

Monday, February 4, 2013

We need your help!

Help us get House Bill 1356 moving forward!

Hearing loss is a medical condition that deserves insurance coverage in the same way that diabetes or any other illness would typically be covered for treatment. This is especially true when it comes to children. Any delays in getting hearing aids for a child in need could mean the difference between a child going into the mainstream classroom or possibly needing Special Education services.

We know so much about preventive medicine today, but why don't we implement it?

Washington state has always been a very innovative and forward-thinking state. Unfortunately, recent examples would indicate otherwise... In 2011, adults on Medicaid are no longer covered for a single hearing aid. In 2013, the majority of children with hearing loss on their family's private insurance plan are still unlikely to be provided with any form of coverage for hearing aids.

Please help us send the message to Olympia that hearing loss is a condition that deserves coverage for treatment. Please contact your legislator today!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bill to require coverage of hearing aids introduced

House Bill 1356 was introduced late last week and currently has 12 co-sponsors!

In its present form, the bill would require health insurance plans to cover a portion of hearing aids purchased for children and adults in the state of Washington. We urge all of our supporters to please contact their legislator and encourage them to support and co-sponsor this type of legislation.

Find your legislator here.

Need a sample letter, click here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

AG Bell Makes College Scholarships Available

Thanks to generous donations from individuals over the years, AG Bell is able to offer several scholarships for full-time students who have a pre-lingual bilateral hearing loss in the moderately-severe to profound range, use listening and spoken language, and who are pursuing a bachelors, masters or doctorate (not law or public policy) degree at an accredited mainstream college or university. This is a merit-based scholarship program and award selection is extremely competitive. Over the past six years approximately 10% of applicants were selected to receive an award. While the number and value of awards varies from year to year, in 2012, 141 applications were reviewed for 20 awards which ranged from $1,000 to $10,000.

The deadline is March 15, 2013 at 5 p.m.

Please click the link below for more information:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hearing Aids and Children

As one can imagine,children require a different approach to fitting hearing aids than what might be used for adults. Many questions arise as to how children will wear hearing aids or how a hearing aid is programmed for a child who is too young provide responses. The American Speech, Language & Hearing Association has a FAQ page related to children and hearing aids. Please click the link below to learn more:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Speaking skills crucial for hearing impaired kids in classroom

Intelligible speech closes the gap between hearing-impaired children and their normal-hearing peers, Tel Aviv University researcher says

Current special education laws are geared towards integrating special-needs children into the general classroom environment from a young age, starting as early as preschool. Prof. Tova Most of Tel Aviv University's Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education and the Department of Communications Disorders at the Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions says that these laws present a unique set of challenges for children with hearing loss, and that a sense of isolation may inhibit a successful education.
In a study designed to explore the social competence and the perceived sense of loneliness of children with hearing loss in a regular classroom with normal hearing children, Prof. Most and her fellow researchers discovered that successful integration is dependent on a child's level of speech intelligibility. The results have been reported in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.
These findings suggest that development of intelligible spoken language has the power to close the gap between children with hearing loss and their hearing peers, resulting in increased social interaction, an improvement in group work, and a change in the teachers' and students' perception of the child with hearing loss, adds Prof. Most.

Meeting the needs of each child
Taking her years of research and in-field experience into account, Prof. Most says that there is an advantage to integrating children with hearing loss with hearing children, provided that their special needs are met. Each child must be assessed on whether to be integrated individually or in a group, she counsels, noting that a "one size fits all" strategy could be harmful for some students.

"I prefer to see kids integrated into the regular school system, allowing them to be closer to home and interact with children in their neighborhood. They would then have access to broader programming and activities," she says. But if a child's spoken language and cognitive abilities indicate that a regular classroom would be difficult for him or her, pushing integration could result in failure.

Children with hearing loss, parents and specialists can aid successful integration by focusing on speech development, advises Prof. Most. And teachers can also do their part to create a more welcoming environment by creating small work groups and setting up meeting points in advance so the child won't be left out. The more children with normal hearing are exposed to those with hearing loss, the more understanding and accepting they will become, she says.