This month, the ASHA Journals would like to encourage you to take some time out to recognize National Deaf Awareness Month. Hearing loss can range from mild or unilateral (single-ear) to full hearing loss (deafness) and can be genetic or caused by a number of factors. It’s estimated that 14.9% of children aged 6–19 have some sort of hearing loss. From there, the prevalence increases throughout the lifespan, with 63% of adults over the age of 70 having some form of hearing loss.

The articles below from four different ASHA journals explore the latest research on hearing loss and rehabilitation. These seven articles look at the issues surrounding children with hearing loss, the latest in hearing aids and cochlear implants, and the implications of hearing loss for physical and mental health.

Deafness in Children

The Benefit of the “And” for Considerations of Language Modality for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children: This article argues that the traditional dichotomy of spoken versus signed language is outdated and doesn’t serve children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Instead, the authors recommend that children simultaneously learn spoken and signed language in a bilingual approach to language learning.

Vocabulary Acquisition as a By-Product of Meaning-Oriented Auditory Training for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Statistically, children who are deaf or hard of hearing are at risk of vocabulary delays. In this study, the authors found that they could use meaning-oriented auditory training to help children learn new words. In this article, the authors also explore other evidence-based methods for word learning in children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants

Toward a New Evidence-Based Fitting Paradigm for Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Only 30% of adults over the age of 70 with hearing loss use hearing aids, and the number goes down even further with adults of low socioeconomic status or who are part of racial or ethnic minoritized groups. This article looks at over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, which are more affordable and accessible but aren’t custom fit like hearing aids that are obtained through a clinician. The authors developed a paradigm that could be used in OTC hearing aids and tested its efficacy.

Parent and Professional Perceptions and Feedback on the Content of an eHealth Hearing Aid Learning Series for Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing: Parents of children diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing are often encouraged to integrate hearing aid use into their family’s life in order to maximize their children’s language learning and development. The authors in this article explore using a collection of tutorials that parents can access online to inform them of how to use and care for their child’s hearing aid.

Speech Recognition With Informational and Energetic Maskers in Patients With Single-Sided Deafness After Cochlear Implantation: People with normal hearing can usually focus in on a specific speaker even in a crowded or noisy area with many people talking at once. This article tested that ability in adults with unilateral deafness using a cochlear implant in a single ear.

Hearing Loss and Health

A Nationwide Study Examining Deafness Among Hospitalized Adults: This study compared hospitalized patients in the United States who were deaf and unable to speak to the larger population of people hospitalized in the United States. The authors found that nonspeaking deaf patients had higher mortality rates and longer hospital stays, suggesting that these patients warrant special attention in a hospital setting.

The Relationship Between Psychological Processes and Indices of Well-Being Among Adults With Hearing Loss: The way that a patient who is deaf or hard of hearing thinks about hearing loss may lead to changes in behavior, thoughts, or emotions. Audiologists should consider the patient’s internalized thoughts and emotions regarding their hearing loss when making decisions regarding assessment and intervention for patients.

More Ways to Recognize Deaf Awareness Month

We hope that the articles above help you reflect on the millions of Americans living with hearing loss and deafness—and what you can do in your personal life or practice. The resources below are great places to start!