Looking to help the families of children recently diagnosed with hearing loss, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing launched its Listen-Learn-Link hotline.
As part of the federal government’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program, almost every infant in the U.S. is screened for hearing loss before being discharged from the hospital.
Having access to another parent who has traveled a similar road can be a lifesaver for new parents of a child with hearing loss.
“It’s terrific that we have universal newborn hearing screening,” said Gayla Guignard, chief strategy officer at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “But not every family has the support they need to make sure they know about all of the resources and the decisions they have to make” if their child is diagnosed with hearing loss.
That’s why AG Bell created the new Listen-Learn-Link hotline. Parents, guardians, and caregivers whose children have recently been identified as having hearing loss or deafness can call the hotline and connect with Julie Swaim, AG Bell’s early intervention parent consultant.
“Julie Swaim is a seasoned parent who has walked the journey that many families are walking,” Guignard said. Years ago, Swaim’s 10-month-old son was given a diagnosis of profound hearing loss, so she is familiar with the uncertainty and confusion that parents often face when getting similar diagnoses.
“Having access to another parent who has traveled a similar road can be a lifesaver for new parents of a child with hearing loss,” Guignard said in a press release.
When parents connect to the hotline via phone, email, or video conference, Swaim will answer their questions and apply AG Bell’s listen-learn-link methodology, which includes listening to the family’s story and finding out where they are in their journey; helping them learn about the decisions they’ll need to start making; and linking them to other resources.
Those resources include contacts at state chapters, who can respond to questions about state and local services available, as well as access to a network of audiologists and speech-language pathologists. Cochlear and GN ReSound, two hearing technology companies, have partnered with AG Bell on the hotline.
Listen-Learn-Link is part of AG Bell’s larger Cradle to Career initiative, launched in late 2017, which provides continued support, resources, information, and services for families, children, and adults as they continue on their journey with hearing loss.