Academic journal article The Volta Review

A Model of Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss Provided through Telepractice

Academic journal article The Volta Review

A Model of Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss Provided through Telepractice

Article excerpt

Children who are deaf and hard of hearing and their families need access to appropriate early intervention services that are delivered by professionals who are well trained and experienced using their chosen communication approach. Unfortunately, a lack of qualified practitioners, especially in remote and rural communities, and limited funding can affect the quality of services that are provided to some children. Advances in telecommunication and distance technology have led to models of telepractice that can provide access to appropriate services and reduce overall costs. While more efficacy research is needed, preliminary findings support the delivery of early intervention services through these distant service delivery models. Professionals who embrace models of telepractice can help to ensure that more children with hearing loss and their families receive the intervention to which they are entitled.


There are challenges inherent in the provision of early intervention services to children with disabilities, especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The position statement of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH; 2007) clearly outlines expectations related to early intervention identified with unilateral or bilateral hearing loss, stating: (1) services should be provided by professionals with expertise in hearing loss, including educators of the deaf, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists; (2) both home- and centerbased intervention options should be offered; (3) families should be aware of all communication options and available hearing technology; and (4) informed family choice in light of desired outcomes should guide the decision-making process when structuring early intervention services.

However, birth-to-3 Part C programs (of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 2004) and state early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) programs often struggle to provide appropriate early intervention services to young children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. The struggle is due to a number of variables. A primary issue is the lack of qualified practitioners. Other factors include limited communication options available in the family's community and funding limitations (Roush, 2011).

The combination of videoconferencing technology and web-based software supporting synchronous, two-way communication has created new opportunities for service delivery. Administrators and practitioners are beginning to adapt models of telepractice - such as teleintervention - to provide direct services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with hearing loss and their families when they live in a community that can be miles away from the provider. These models of telepractice are associated with positive outcomes (Houston, 2011; McCarthy, Munoz, & White, 2010), and practitioners and parents of children with hearing loss are acknowledging the value of these services. Because these programs are relatively new in this field, more research is needed to investigate their efficacy.

The Roles of EHDI and IDEA Part C

Several studies underscore the developmental, communicative, and social benefits of early intervention for young children identified with hearing loss (Apuzzo & Yoshinaga-Itano, 1995; Calderón, 2000; Mayne, Yoshinaga-Itano, & Sedey, 1998; Moeller, 2000; Pipp-Siegel, Sedey, VanLeeuwen, & YoshinagaItano, 2003; Yoshinaga-Itano, 2003; Yoshinaga-Itano, Sedey, Coulter, & Mehl, 1998). Yet, state EHDI coordinators describe the lack of appropriate early intervention services as a major problem (Shulman, Besculides, Saltzman, Ireys, & White, 2010). Presently, two state agencies are responsible for assuring a child receives early intervention services: the state EHDI program and each state's IDEA Part C program. The primary purpose of the EHDI program is to ensure that a coordinated system of hearing screening, diagnosis, referral, and tracking occurs throughout the state (White, Forsman, Eichwald, & Munoz, 2010). …

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