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Getting Started

A sound start for a brighter future

What is hearing loss?

In the US, 3 out of every 1000 children is born deaf or hard of hearing. Did you know there are actually 5 different types of hearing loss? In infants, the most common types are conductive or sensorineural. 

My child may have hearing loss. What now?

Did you just discover your child is deaf or hard of hearing? You are not alone. The first steps can feel daunting—let us guide you!

STEP
01

Follow up on their hearing screening today

About 60% of infants who fail a newborn hearing screening have middle ear fluid to blame. This may clear with time or tubes, but it’s important to follow up with an audiologist to confirm. If your child fails a hearing test with an audiologist, they will then be seen by a pediatric ENT, who can discuss their type of hearing loss and communication options with you. If hearing loss is suspected in an older child, an appointment with an audiologist should be made as soon as possible.

STEP
02

Consider your family's communication style

Hearing loss does NOT mean your child will miss out on life or be unable to communicate with the rest of your family. Sign language is an option, but so is hearing and speaking! With the right hearing technology and support, your child can learn to hear and speak in the language of your choice, alongside their peers.

STEP
03

Get connected with your early intervention team

All states offer early intervention services and should connect you with a group of professionals to get the services and support you need. Your team can include an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, your child’s pediatrician, an otolaryngologist (ENT) and, in some cases, a pediatric geneticist, If you would like your child to hear and speak, consulting with a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) is a great first step

STEP
04

Get hearing technology

The human brain is programmed to learn language during the first six years of life—with the first three-and-a-half years being the most critical. If you choose hearing and spoken language to communicate, getting your child access to sound by being fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants as soon as possible will be the most impactful. Why? Because sound stimulates development of the brain’s auditory cortex, and lack of stimulation can lead to auditory underdevelopment, making it harder to learn to speak.

STEP
05

Join us to receive continued support

Receive our Getting Started Guide in your inbox by signing up below:

Our membership benefits for families:

  • State Chapters

    Connect with & get support from local families like yours!

  • Professional Guidance

    Speak to a parent who's been there or search for a certified therapist.

  • Financial Support

    Scholarships for technology, therapy, and education

  • Resource Library

    Get answers with access to our information library

  • Volta Voices

    A bilingual magazine with in-depth stories about growing up with hearing loss

  • Loft & Leap

    Access to unique leadership & educational programs for teens

Take the next right steps in your hearing journey

Many parents tell us they feel scared and confused in these early days, especially if they don’t know anyone else who is deaf or hard of hearing. That’s where we come in—a life with hearing loss can be rich, fun and fulfilling and even better in our community!

Parent support Line

What if I just need to talk to someone?

We’ve got you covered! 

Give us a call and speak with Julie Swaim, early intervention specialist & parent of a deaf child, now-grown, successful adult. Learn more about her story here.
Black and white headshot of a smiling woman with shoulder-length hair, wearing a pearl necklace and child-sized earrings.

Ask Julie

Support when you need it. Schedule a call with Julie by phone or zoom Monday-Friday.

AG Bell membership for families is always free!

Family membership benefits:

  • Financial Support

    Scholarships for technology, therapy, and education

  • Professional Guidance

    Speak to a parent who's been there or search for a certified therapist.

  • State Chapters

    Connect with and get support from local families like yours!

  • Resource Library

    Get answers with access to our information library

  • Volta Voices

    A bilingual magazine with in-depth stories about growing up with hearing loss

  • Loft & Leap

    Access to unique leadership & educational programs for teens

Seeking an AG Bell professional membership?

Get listed on our searchable professional directory, find educational and research resources, scholarships and mentorship.

Professional Membership Has Its Benefits

Join today to connect with fellow members, exchange insights, get listed in our global directory, and celebrate the journey of listening & spoken language.

Professional benefits include:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

    Earn CEUs through the AG Bell Academy, at our yearly Symposium, or through events held throughout the year for members

  • $100 off Exam Fees

    Take your Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) certification exam for less!

  • Event Discounts

    Discounted registration to AG Bell’s symposium and other events, plus special discounts on travel, restaurants, retail shops and more

  • LSL Professional Directory

    Get listed and found by families that need your services and students that want your mentorship

  • LSL Leading Edge

    An exclusive e-newsletter for AG Bell professional members packed with the latest news and developments in hearing health and the listening & spoken language field

  • Volta Voices 

    AG Bell’s award-winning, quarterly digital magazine in English and Spanish

  • Access to AG Bell’s Network

    Connect with 40+ state chapters located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico

  • Professional Opportunities

    Get involved in AG Bell through committees, task forces, councils and other venues for members to interact and contribute meaningfully

  • The Volta Review 

    Stay current with the latest research through our peer-reviewed, online professional research journal

Seeking membership as a friend or family member?

Membership is always free for family & friends of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and helps connect individuals to our professional community!