Hearing Technology

It is vitally important that your child receives consistent access to speech and other sounds with amplification beginning no later than three months of age. To accomplish that auditory stimulation goal, there are a number of hearing assistive devices available, depending on your child’s age and the severity of the hearing loss.

For people with mild to moderate hearing loss, a hearing aid can significantly help communication by amplifying sound.

Hearing aids are a major purchase so it’s important to understand exactly the terms of purchase. Ask the audiologist whether they have a variety of hearing aids for a person to try or a Loaner Hearing Aid Bank Program.

Families of children enrolled in early intervention may be eligible to receive funding for hearing through that program. These state programs receive federal funding through Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law supporting special education.

State early intervention programs may allow a family to qualify for hearing aids at no cost if your insurance does not cover aids or if you do not have insurance. Some states also purchase aids for children through public special education programs, which also receive funding through IDEA.

Some states have mandates for health insurance plans to cover part of the cost of hearing aids in some circumstances. However, many insurance plans exclude coverage for hearing aids. Check your insurance policy before purchasing hearing aids.

If you cannot afford hearing aids, several organizations offer other sources of funding you can explore (Let Them Hear Foundation, Starkey Foundation, Lions Clubs and others). Medicaid provides hearing aids to qualifying children. Hearing assistive device manufacturers often offer financial assistance programs including help in contacting your health care insurance company or Medicare to obtain approval for coverage. Also, your audiologist may be able to refer you to possible sources of funding in your community.

AG Bell maintains a list of resources detailing the hearing aid-related insurance mandates on a state-by-state basis. To inquire about this list, please email [email protected].

If your child has a severe or profound hearing loss in both ears, traditional hearing aids may not be enough to provide adequate sound perception and comprehension for speech understanding. Fortunately, cochlear implants can help people with profound hearing loss gain partial hearing. Since the 1970s, cochlear implants have helped thousands of people detect sound and understand speech.

Hearing works like this: In the inner ear, the cochlea and auditory nerve work together to turn acoustical sound waves into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted through the auditory nerve to the brain where they are perceived as sound. If any part of this complicated system is damaged, hearing loss occurs.

A cochlear implant mimics this system. The electronic device(s) bypasses the damaged areas and sends electronic signals to the brain that can be interpreted as sound. As a result, people who use cochlear implants may have increased sound awareness, better environmental sound recognition, enhanced speechreading abilities, improved speech production and the ability to understanding speech without speechreading.

The Process of Hearing with Cochlear Implants

  • Sound is received by the microphone.
  • Electrical pulses that represent the energy contained in sound signals are sent from the microphone to the speech processor.
  • The speech processor selects and codes the most useful portions of the sound signals.
  • Code is sent to the transmitter.
  • Transmitter sends code across skin to receiver/stimulator.
  • Receiver/stimulator converts code to electrical signals.
  • Electrical signals are sent to electrode array in the cochlea to stimulate hearing nerve fibers.
  • Signals are recognized as sounds by the brain.

Reach Us

Alexander Graham Bell Association
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

3417 Volta Place NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Tel: 202-337-5220
TTY: 202-337-5221
Fax: 202-337-8314

[email protected]

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Our Mission

Working globally to ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing can hear and talk. 

We want all families to be informed and supported, professionals to be appropriately qualified to teach and help children with hearing loss, public policy leaders to effectively address the needs of people with hearing loss, and communities to be empowered to help their neighbors with hearing loss succeed.