Free Resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
Obtaining Educational Resources for Children with Hearing Loss
Finding Help and Information
When a child is born deaf or hard-of-hearing, there is an adjustment process for the parents: over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Parents are faced with overwhelming decisions: which way to communicate, where to find the right resources, and how to afford hearing aids, which are often not covered by medical insurance.
There are many free resources and educational items available for parents and children. This article aims to provide a comprehensive list of free educational resources, support, and products for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
The John Tracy Clinic
Founded in 1943 by Louise Tracy (the wife of actor Spencer Tracy), the John Tracy Clinic has been offering parents quality information on raising deaf and hard-of-hearing children for years. All of the material offered by the clinic is absolutely free, and the website offers an "ask the audiologist" feature for parents confused by testing results.
The Clinic also offers a free international correspondence course. Parents are mailed a series of lessons and follow the curriculum at home with their infants and preschoolers. Upon completing a report on the child's response to the lessons, the parent is provided with feedback from the world-class staff at the clinic.
A free preschool summer session is also available, providing an amazing educational opportunity for parents and children. The summer course lasts for three weeks, and is entirely free of charge. Parents must pay for lodging and food for the course of the trip, but subsidized housing at the nearby Annenberg Apartments is available (part of the USC campus).
Alexander Graham Bell Organization
For parents considering a spoken communication path, the Alexander Graham Bell organization offers free membership and educational materials. Volta Voices, a free print publication, is provided along with membership to the organization. Educational resources include explanations of technology and early intervention strategies. Advocacy for children in mainstream public schools and biannual conferences for parents of children with hearing loss help parents who have chosen to pursue a listening and spoken language educational approach.
The Alexander Graham Bell foundation also offers scholarships to children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Listening and Spoken Language Advocacy: AG Bell
Hearing Health Magazine
A quarterly publication, Hearing Health Magazine is entirely free. Articles range from exploring new technology to personal stories from people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This magazine is part of the Deafness Research Foundation, and is also available for electronic download from the website.
Resources for Families Interested in Cued Speech
Cued speech is a visual representation of sound. Unlike ASL, Cued Speech is not a language, but a way to visually express different phonemes of spoken language to increase accessibility to oral communication. Cueing is beneficial to those who have hearing loss or other language disorders.
The National Cued Speech Association offers educational resources, workshops, and scholarships for families who choose this communication modality. Summer camps are also available to children who are deaf and hard of hearing, though the summer camps are not free of charge.
Mini Documentary on Cued Speech
Hands and Voices
Hands and Voices offers support to parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing using all communication modalities. The primary goal of Hands and Voices is to provide parents with the tools they need to support their children, without bias. Educational resources are available in multiple languages. Advocacy support and training resources are available to parents, in addition to local chapters that meet to provide parents with real-life, in-person guidance and information.
American Society for Deaf Children
Families who choose to pursue a visual language, such as American Sign Language, will find support from the American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC). The ASDC believes all children benefit from early exposure to a visual language and should celebrate a positive identity through family support.
Educational resources for learning ASL and annual conferences help support parents who choose sign language as their child's primary or second language. Members of ASDC receive The Endeavor, a magazine printed three times per year with articles supporting the educational and advocacy aims of the organization.
Hands and Voices Parent Advocacy Organization
Communication Modality Choices for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
What communication modality did you choose for your child?
Financial Assistance with Hearing Aids
Parents often find it a shock when hearing aids are not covered by medical insurance. With a price tag of approximately $5,000 for quality digital hearing aids, parents often scramble for funding in the attempt to give their baby access to sound as early as possible.
The Hearing Loss Association of America offers a full listing of financial resources to aid families searching for a way to fund a hearing aid purchase.
The Lions Club has initiated the Affordable Hearing Aid Project, and many local Lions Clubs are willing to aid families in acquiring hearing aids.