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Disability Information - Hearing Impaired (HI), Deafness, or Hearing Loss


General Information

Education & Classroom Accommodations

Michigan Resources, Support Groups, Listservs & Websites

National Resources & Websites

Articles Related to this Disability

Medical Information

starMI MPSC To Fine Company For Not Providing Deaf Phone Servicestar

(MIRS, 4/14/16) The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today found a company did not provide required telecommunications relay service (TRS) for its deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired customers. The MPSC approved an order stipulating it would charge CMC Telecom $200 each day it's been in violation. The MPSC will reopen a proceeding to determine what date, if any, the company began providing TRS. This follows a June 2015 order the MPSC issued directing CMC Telcom to show it was providing TRS. In 2014, AT&T told the MPSC it was moving out of the business of providing TRS statewide in early 2015, which left some other local providers to arrange for providing their own TRS.


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 General Information




The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly the Education of the Handicapped Act (P.L. 94-142), includes "hearing impairment" and "deafness" as two of the categories under which children with disabilities may be eligible for special education and related services programming. While the term "hearing impairment" is often used generically to describe a wide range of hearing losses, including deafness, the regulations for IDEA define hearing loss and deafness separately.


Hearing impairment is defined by IDEA as "an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance."


Deafness is defined as "a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification."


Thus, deafness may be viewed as a condition that prevents an individual from receiving sound in all or most of its forms. In contrast, a child with a hearing loss can generally respond to auditory stimuli, including speech.


Source:  NICHCY


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 Education & Classroom Accommodations


Hearing loss or deafness does not affect a person's intellectual capacity or ability to learn. However, children who are either hard of hearing or deaf generally require some form of special education services in order to receive an adequate education. Such services may include:
regular speech, language, and auditory training from a specialist;
amplification systems;
services of an interpreter for those students who use sign language;
favorable seating in the class to facilitate lip reading;
captioned films/videos;
assistance of a notetaker, who takes notes for the student with a hearing loss, so that the student can fully attend to instruction;
instruction for the teacher and peers in alternate communication methods, such as sign language; and

Children who are hard of hearing will find it much more difficult than children who have normal hearing to learn vocabulary, grammar, word order, idiomatic expressions, and other aspects of verbal communication. For children who are deaf or have severe hearing losses, early, consistent, and conscious use of visible communication modes (such as sign language, fingerspelling, and Cued Speech) and/or amplification and aural/oral training can help reduce this language delay. By age four or five, most children who are deaf are enrolled in school on a full-day basis and do special work on communication and language development. It is important for teachers and audiologists to work together to teach the child to use his or her residual hearing to the maximum extent possible, even if the preferred means of communication is manual. Since the great majority of deaf children (over 90%) are born to hearing parents, programs should provide instruction for parents on implications of deafness within the family.

People with hearing loss use oral or manual means of communication or a combination of the two. Oral communication includes speech, lip reading and the use of residual hearing. Manual communication involves signs and fingerspelling. Total Communication, as a method of instruction, is a combination of the oral method plus signing and fingerspelling.

Individuals with hearing loss, including those who are deaf, now have many helpful devices available to them. Text telephones (known as TTs, TTYs, orTDDs) enable persons to type phone messages over the telephone network. The Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), now required by law, makes it possible for TT users to communicate with virtually anyone (and vice versa) via telephone. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse makes available lists of TRS numbers by state.


 Michigan Resources, Support Groups, Listservs & Websites


Hands & Voices: Non-biased Support for Families of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing - The Chapter's support comes from the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program of the Michigan Department of Community Health with grant funds from the Maternal Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The board meets the fourth Saturday of every month in Holt, Michigan. For more information or to become a part of this dynamic and necessary organization, contact Amy Lester, Parent Consultant for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program at or 517-335-8273. You may also contact Michigan Association for Deaf Hearing and Speech services (MADHS) at 1-800-YOUR-EAR.

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 National Resources & Websites


American Society for Deaf Children
National Organization which provides information, support, and advocacy to help improve the educational, recreational, and health care opportunities of deaf and hard of hearing children and youth.

Phone: 1-800-942-ASDC (942-2732) Parent Hotline

FACT SHEET: Telephone Access for People with Speech Disabilities - Their mission is to provide access to information about laws, education, and related services to hearing families and relatives with deaf children, building a community that will enable them to reach their maximum potential.


Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
(202) 337-5220 (V); (202) 337-5221 (TTY)
American Society for Deaf Children
1-800-942-2732 (Voice/TTY); (717) 334-7922 (V/TTY)

American Speech-Language Hearing Association
(301) 897-5700 (Voice/TTY); 1-800-638-8255 (Helpline)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1-800-241-1044 (Voice); 1-800-241-1055 (TTY)
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH)
(301) 657-2248 (Voice); (301) 657-2249 (TT)


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 Articles Related to this Disability


GA Special Needs Student is Resolute - In a dimly lighted room, 14-year-old Chelsea Gilliland read aloud as she skimmed her hands along rows of raised dots, letting her fingers see the words. The LaFayette High School freshman is legally blind, hearing impaired and has trouble walking. Despite her physical handicaps, Chelsea has succeeded in school, making all A's and B's.


Infant Hearing and Resources - The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) at Utah State University was established to ensure that all infants and toddlers with hearing loss are identified as early as possible and provided with timely and appropriate services. Their information and resource center contains a wealth of information and resources concerning the many dimensions of early hearing detection and intervention.


Closed Captioning (CC) FAQ - What are closed captions? How does captioning work? Who watches closed captions? Who pays for captioning?  This informative FAQ contains answers to these questions and more.


KY Child Misdiagnosed With ADHD Making The Grade After Real Problem Found - What if the diagnosis just doesn't fit, and your child is still struggling? It could be something you've never heard of, yet "hearing" is what it's all about.


Hearing Loss Can Mean Learning Loss for up to 15% of Students - Hearing loss takes a toll on learning. Children with severe or profound hearing loss are easy to spot, but those with moderate or minimal hearing problems sometimes go undetected and many experience a slow but steady decline in academic achievement. "The numbers are shocking," said an assistant superintendent for student services. "I'm sure we underestimate the prevalence of hearing loss in our schools, and we overlook the fact that most classroom learning depends on hearing and listening."


Class Helps 3-year-old Through Disability - With five of his classmates, Christopher sits in a diminutive chair at a low table eating a snack at Lynchburg City School's Hutcherson Early Learning Center.


MI Deaf mom fights to keep kids from ear implants


Video on Classroom Acoustics Released - A new video is now available on innovative designs and technologies for improving classroom acoustics. The video derives from a longer program on school design developed by the Information Television Network with sponsorship from the Board and other organizations. Copies of the video, Classroom Acoustics: Listening vs. Learning, can be ordered from the Educational Audiology Association at (800) 460-7322.


MI Grand Rapids Children's Cochlear Implant Case: Amicus Brief


MI Michigan Judge Rules Deaf Boys Needn't Undergo Surgery


MI Deaf mom gets the 'no' she wants - The judge who ruled against forcing two deaf boys to get cochlear implants said Friday she believes the devices would help them -- but it's not up to her to decide.


Read "NTID tries to learn why deaf find science difficult"


Helping to fight the effects of being deaf - In a sense, Brett E. Holt is one of the fortunate.


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 Medical Information


There are more than 50,000 people with cochlear implants worldwide--about are children. On July 24th, 2002 (updated August 15, 2002), the FDA issued a Public Health notification--Cochlear Implant Recipients May Be At Greater Risk for Meningitis. This notification indicates that in a period of 14 years, 52 cases of meningitis were reported - mostly in children (some adults). An independent review described in the FDA publication identified 22 of the 52 worldwide cases as occurring in North America (9-Advanced Bionics,
13-Cochlear Corporation, 0- MED-EL). While the FDA announcement discusses the possible association between implants and meningitis, it also explains that the implant has not been proven to be the cause of the meningitis in the cases noted.

Regarding this possible relationship between implants and meningitis, the following issues should be taken into consideration:
Any surgery in the inner ear can increase the risk of infectious diseases like meningitis.
Some deaf individuals may have congenital abnormalities of the inner ear that make them prone to meningitis with or without an implant.
Some individuals who are deaf from meningitis may be at increased risk for subsequent episodes of meningitis in comparison to the general population.

What the implant manufacturers are saying---
In the case of the Cochlear Corporation--Their review of data suggests that the overall incidence of meningitis with the Nucleus device is comparable to the incidence of meningitis in the general population. As stated on the Cochlear Corporation website, " the incidence of bacterial meningitis for patients implanted with Nucleus is 14.3 cases/100,000/year in North America and 10.2 cases/100,000 worldwide. This is similar to the incidence in the general U.S. population of 2.4-10 cases/100,000 a year." They have found that the majority of the reported meningitis cases following implantation with their device primarily involved individuals with a history of cochlear malformations, or meningitis prior to surgery.

In the case of Advanced Bionics-- The design of the electrode positioner in the Clarion CII implant is being considered as a possible predisposing factor to meningitis. Advanced Bionics voluntarily removed their Clarion CII implant from the market while the necessary modifications were made to manufacture and distribute the CII without the positioner. The modified system is now available. As stated in the Advanced Bionics website-- a significant proportion of the reported cases with their implant that had the posistioner involved two centers in Europe. Increased incidence in Europe may possibly be due to lower vaccination rates there. In the case of MedEl--As noted above, there have been no reported cases of meningitis with MED-EL.

While the possibility of contracting meningitis associated with implantation may be rare, the following precautions should be taken prior to implantation:

Discuss the need for a meningitis vaccination with a doctor prior to implantation. The recommended vaccine may differ depending on your child's age. This vaccination would be in addition to vaccinations routinely required. See for a list of recommended vaccines. If the vaccination is not covered by an insurance provider, contact the implant manufacturer to inquire about their vaccine reimbursement policy.

Assure that the recipient is symptom free of otitis media or other infections at the time of implantation.

What if a person already has an implant?
As ear infections sometimes precede the occurrence of meningitis, implantees should be treated promptly and aggressively.
Implantees should discuss the possible need of a meningitis vaccination with their doctor
As the risk of contracting meningitis seems to be far less than the risks associated with surgery, removal of the cochlear implant positioner (Advanced Bionics) is not recommended.

Compiled by:
Debra Nussbaum, M.A. CCC-A
Coordinator, Cochlear Implant Education Center
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, Gallaudet University

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