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Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act Passed

In October 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2017 into law, which will fund continued research and improve program development for early hearing detection and intervention in newborns and young children with hearing loss for the next five years.

The current bill improves critical programs that diagnose and treat newborns and young children with hearing loss. Young children are now included as part of early hearing detection and intervention programs. Additional improvements include better access to medical follow-up and intervention services when a hearing loss is diagnosed.

“Today’s passage of the EHDI bill will provide children and families across our nation with proper access to early intervention services,” said Gayla Guignard, chief strategy officer at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell). “State-level programming is important to ensure that children make it to appropriate services and service providers, including Listening and Spoken Language Specialists. The earlier a child receives services to address the effects of hearing loss, the more time there is to influence positive learning outcomes.”

EHDI has allowed newborns to be screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital, paving the way for early identification and intervention. Statewide programs require initial hearing tests in infants, evaluations to identify hearing loss, and the medical services and early intervention programs that put children on the path to develop critical skills necessary to succeed.

“We are also extremely grateful to our members and those who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation to ensure that every child with hearing loss develops communication and social skills and lives a life without limits,” said Guignard.

Since 2000, early intervention services have provided families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing with support and resources to maximize their children’s abilities, while respecting family decisions and cultures. Services are provided at the state and local level and often can be arranged through the local school system.

Sarah Vaughan