Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program

HRSA’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Programs enable states, territories, families, and providers to develop complete and coordinated systems of care so that newborns, infants and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing are identified and get the care they need when they need it. Early involvement can help these children meet age-appropriate language, social, and other developmental milestones.

Across the U.S. and its territories, we support efforts to:

  • Develop early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) systems.
  • Recruit, educate, and train staff and health care providers with current knowledge, evidence-based practices, and EHDI system goals.
  • Ensure families have access to information that is accurate, comprehensive, up-to-date, and evidence-based to allow families to make important decisions for their children in a timely manner, including decisions with respect to the full range of assistive hearing technologies and communication modalities.
  • Establish and foster family-to-family support that is important after a child has been identified as deaf or hard of hearing.

What Are Our Goals?

  • Optimize the language, literacy, cognitive, social, and emotional development of deaf and hard of hearing newborns, infants, and young children.
  • Support the development of statewide programs and systems of care that identify children who are deaf or hard of hearing through newborn and infant hearing screening and deliver evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention that aids language, literacy, and social development.
  • Ensure that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can access services and a medical home in their communities; that they get early and continuous screening; and that families, parents and caretakers are engaged as active partners in the care of their children.
  • Support families who are the decision-makers for their children.

How We Support the EHDI System

HRSA supports a coordinated portfolio of programs that support state and territory health departments, departments of education, academic institutions with universal newborn hearing screening programs, and family and provider organizations to develop a system of services for children who are identified as deaf or hard of hearing and their families. We support the EHDI system with technical assistance, by fostering family engagement, supporting workforce development and training, and working with pediatricians and health care providers.

We support the following initiatives:

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program

National Technical Resource Center for Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention

Family Leadership in Language and Learning Program

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) – Pediatric Audiology Trainees

What Have We Achieved?

Before 1993, fewer than 1 in 10 newborns in the U.S. were screened for hearing loss, but now nearly all are screened. Since HRSA’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program started, states and territories have had significant success identifying and getting services for newborns and infants with hearing loss, including:

  • 95.5% of all infants were screened prior to one month of age, and overall, 98.2% of all infants born in the U.S. have their hearing screened.
  • 58.7% of infants received audiological evaluations and a diagnosis by three months of age. Our system continues to work to increase the number of infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing at an early age. In 2015, 279 more infants were identified from the previous year, for a total of 6,442 infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing.
  • 65.3% of infants were enrolled in early intervention services before six months of age.

In addition, we encourage grantees to develop an integrated EHDI health information system that allows communication and protected data sharing among care providers. Fewer infants are lost to follow-up or documentation as a result of our systems improvements.

While significant progress has been made, other parts of the EHDI system still need improvement. We continue to work toward our goals of screening all newborns and infants for hearing loss, increasing the number of newborns and infants that are enrolled into early intervention programs in a timely manner, and expanding family participation within the EHDI system.

Date Last Reviewed:  April 2019