Senate Passes Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Bill

Bill Reauthorizes Funding for Programs that Detect Hearing Loss in Newborns and Young Children

Contact: Christopher Gensch, Communications Director
Office: 202-204-4668
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WASHINGTON, September 7, 2017 – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act, which will fund continued research and improve program development for early hearing detection and intervention in newborns and young children with hearing loss. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sponsored the bill, which will fund EHDI programs for five years. Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) have introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

Several improvements were made to the current legislation, which was originally passed in 2000. Young children are now included as part of early hearing detection and intervention programs. The improvements also include better access to medical follow-up and intervention services when a hearing loss is diagnosed.

“Children born with hearing loss risk falling behind in their full potential,” said Gayla Guignard, chief strategy officer at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell). “When a hearing loss is identified, it is vital that families begin the planning process for their child’s future, which is done through early intervention. It is imperative that early intervention provides children with the tools and services they need so they can be ready to succeed when they start school.”

EHDI has allowed newborns to be screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital, paving the way for early identification and intervention. Statewide programs require initial hearing tests in infants, evaluations to identify hearing loss, and the medical services and early intervention programs that put children on the path to develop critical communication and social skills necessary to succeed in their daily lives.

Each year, EHDI programs nationwide report newborn hearing screening data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC’s most recent data, over 97 percent of newborns in the U.S. were screened for hearing loss in 2014, with over 71 percent of those babies being confirmed as having or not having a hearing loss before three months of age.

About the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advancing Listening and Spoken Language for Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. For more information, please visit