Screenings Can Help School Children Learn
August 23, 1999 -- New
state regulations that went into effect this summer require that
all babies born in Virginia hospitals that have neonatal intensive
care services must have hearing screenings before being discharged.
regulation will result in approximately 300 new children being identified
with significant hearing loss in the state each year, according
to Robert Novak, associate professor of audiology in the University
of Virginia's communication disorders program, who chairs the Virginia
Educational Audiology Task Force. He noted that beginning next July
1, all Virginia hospitals will be required to screen newborns
hearing prior to their discharge.
follow-up and early intervention services for children failing the
screening are critical," Novak said.
a month after failing initial hearing screenings, newborns should
receive follow-up diagnostic testing to confirm hearing loss, Novak
said. If hearing loss is confirmed, families will be helped in contacting
the nearest Virginia Developmental Services Early Intervention Program.
Through such programs infants will receive appropriate medical and
audiological management, and families will gain planning, counseling
medical and audiological management may include amplification or
cochlear implants, which increase the sounds the ear hears, and
language stimulation therapy, which helps parents learn how to communicate
effectively with their child after hearing loss is diagnosed.
parents with infants who have severe-to-profound hearing loss, counseling
may help them decide if their children can learn to speak or will
need to be taught sign language.
medical and audiological management and counseling sessions with
families are essential to minimizing the immediate impact of the
diagnosis on parents. The combination may also reduce the long-term
disability that can be associated with hearing loss in children,"
Children at Risk
ahead to fall, Novak said that children wearing hearing aids in
school may not receive appropriate help and training. "Research
shows that on any given day 50 percent of the hearing aids on children
in schools are not working effectively or at all," he said.
mandates require that hearing aids used by children in classrooms
work appropriately every day. "In Virginia no one group consistently
determines if the hearing aids are being used appropriately," Novak
Vast differences exist not only among Virginia's school districts,
but within districts as well, he said. "Virginia public schools
need to insure consistent management of the day-to-day hearing aid
needs of hard-of-hearing children. Something as simple as the lack
of consistent approaches to hearing screenings increases the possibility
of missing hearing loss in school-age children that can interfere
with their education," Novak said.
of the Virginia Educational Audiology Task Force have been working
with the Virginia Department of Health in developing a hearing-impairment
identification and monitoring system.
also contributed to an information packet that helps parents know
what questions to ask when seeking medical, audiological and educational
services. The information packets, which provide contacts for services,
will be given to hospitals doing infant hearing screenings and will
also be distributed to primary care providers throughout Virginia
task force has also developed a position statement on hearing screening
recommendations for Virginia public schools. Although hearing screenings
of school-age (3-21 years) children are mandated by the state, the
specifics of how and by whom the screenings are conducted are decided
by local school districts. Consequently, there are significant differences
in how screenings are handled, how follow-up is conducted, and what
educational interventions are applied, Novak said.
noted that current Virginia school health guidelines regarding how
hearing screenings are conducted do not follow the best practices
established by the American Speech, Hearing and Language Association.
educational audiology task force submitted to the Virginia Department
of Education a position paper on how such screenings should be conducted.
The best-practice guidelines include visual inspection, middle ear
examination and pure tone hearing screenings. They also call for
training of all screening personnel by a licensed audiologist. The
guidelines have been accepted and will be included in the revised
Virginia school health guidelines. Implementation of the guidelines
will still be left to the discretion of local school districts.
states, such as Utah, Colorado and Iowa, have excellent educational
audiology services for children, but Virginia has a long way to
go. Establishing consistent state protocols for screening and follow-up
of hearing loss in newborns and consistent hearing screening and
intervention protocols for school-age children are good beginning
steps in Virginia," Novak said.
more information, including a description of all the hearing screening
recommendations for Virginia public schools that the task force
sent to the Virginia Department of Education and General Assembly
committees, contact Robert Novak at (804) 982-2323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
of the task force who helped develop the newborn hearing-screening
protocols and/or the parent-information packet include:
Dewey, coordinator of the Virginia Department of Healths
Hearing Impairment and Identification Monitoring System. She can
be reached at (804) 786-1964.
Ruth, professor and director of the Communicative Disorders Division
in U.Va.s Otolaryngology Department, who is at (804) 924-2050
Helbert, educational audiologist for Wise County Public Schools,
who can be reached at (540) 328-8017.
Ida Lee Wootten (804) 924-6857