It is possible for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing to develop listening and spoken language. Listen and Talk's early intervention providers coach parents in their home to help their child learn to listen and, in turn, learn to talk. Listen and Talk implemented Virtual Home Visits (VHV) to enable providers to apply their expertise to families more efficiently while maintaining effectiveness. The expansion of the VHV model enables more families to be served across a wider geographical area.
Each year in Washington State, approximately 233 babies are born with hearing loss. Children who are diagnosed prior to 6 months and fitted with either hearing aids or cochlear implants-along with speech, language, and aural rehabilitation-develop close to, or at the same rate, as their peers. The key is early diagnosis, early intervention, and early brain development. Currently, our providers drive up to 3,000 miles/month to reach our families. The distance limits the number of families served.
Providing services through VHV will enable our providers to reach a greater number families. Instead of spending time driving to homes, our providers can apply their expertise to more families, more efficiently. These families, in turn, help children to become independent members of their community. Listen and Talk recognizes the importance of outcome research and participates in a national, multi-center study to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of VHV compared to in-home visits.
With the technology and early intervention available today, a child with hearing loss CAN have the same opportunity as a child with typical hearing to develop speech, language, cognition, literacy, and academic skills. The more families that are able to be served, the greater potential the children will have to enter their mainstream schools and lead independent and successful lives.