EHDI Programs and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community: Working Together
Early identification of children who are born deaf or hard of hearing is critical to ensure that their families have the resources they need to help their children acquire language, and achieve age-appropriate communicative, cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development. Despite the establishment of state newborn hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) programs, a lot of work remains.
A key ingredient to the success of an EHDI program is deaf and hard of hearing community participation. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) believes such participation is essential to ensure that every family gets the care, information, and services they need. Deaf and hard of hearing infants must be given the opportunity to acquire American Sign Language (ASL), a fully accessible visual language, as early as possible, including the opportunity to access and acquire the spoken language(s) used by their families through the use of assistive technologies and other strategies.
The NAD is strongly committed to ensuring that parents of newly identified deaf or hard of hearing infants receive accurate information about the benefits of acquiring and developing proficiency in both ASL and English. Such efforts necessitate the recruitment and participation of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Together with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, Support Families in Your Community
The NAD encourages an open exchange of information between EHDI professionals and members of the deaf and hard of hearing community in order to provide maximum support to families of deaf and hard of hearing children. It is crucial for families to have the information they need – including information about deaf and hard of hearing adults who know and use ASL– so their decisions can be fully informed.
Getting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community Members Involved
The NAD urges EHDI programs and professionals to adopt the following initiatives: