Developmental Outcome Feasibility Study: Deaf/Hard of Hearing

September 2, 2008

PI: Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, PhD, University of Colorado


Early hearing detection and intervention programs were designed to assure that all infants born in the United States have access to hearing screening within the first month of life to provide an opportunity for infants with hearing loss to develop age and cognitively appropriate communication skills. There is great urgency to develop systems that can assure that infants with hearing loss are enrolled in appropriate early intervention services before six months of age. The probability of successful development drops from 80% to 35% with later identification of hearing loss and later enrollment in appropriate early intervention services. As with all quality health initiatives, the quality of the intervention is paramount. In order to monitor and assure quality services, ongoing developmental assessment must be conducted. Despite the fact that screening began 16 years ago, and that almost all of the 4 million babies born annually in the United States are being screened for hearing in the first month of life, only one state can provide data that demonstrates the effectiveness of the hearing screening programs.

This project will conduct a feasibility study to provide technical assistance to a minimum of 5 states to develop data management systems that are capable of collecting and reporting developmental outcomes of infants/children identified through the hearing screening programs. The project will assist in forging collaborative relationships within states and territories with state health departments, state education departments, educational systems for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, public and private early intervention programs, and parent organizations to help assure the collection and reporting of developmental outcomes of individual infants identified with hearing loss. The project will rely upon the acceptance of a minimum of two standardized developmental assessments that will be used with as many families with identified children as possible. Data about early intervention follow-through, characteristics of the intervention services, demographics of the enrolled population, and developmental outcomes will be analyzed and reported annually by state/territory and across all participating states/territories.

The purpose of instituting universal newborn hearing screening programs is to prevent the potential negative developmental impacts of congenital hearing loss. This project will provide participating states with the technical assistance to develop data systems capable of reporting developmental outcomes.and will issue annual reports. In three years, Colorado will no longer be the sole state capable of reporting these data.