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Partnering Audiology and Legislation: the ASHA Impact

October 25, 2006

by Janet Deppe, ASHA Director of State Special Initiatives

Responding to the need for infants to receive timely early intervention services, the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) is leading a new five-year campaign to diagnose and provide early intervention services for those children identified with potential hearing loss through Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI).

Hearing loss continues to be most common birth defect in America with between 1-3 babies out of every 1,000 born with some type of permanent hearing disability. However, in 1998, just over 20% of hospitals in the United States screened infants for hearing loss. ASHA set its first a five-year goal in 2000 to provide hearing loss screenings for at least 90% of newborns by the time they were one month old. That goal was achieved in 2005.

"The impact of delayed detection of hearing loss in newborns and intervention can last a lifetime," ASHA President Alex Johnson, PhD, says. "When hearing loss is found early, intervention and treatment can produce dramatic improvements in a child's speech and language development, and emerging literacy skills."

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