Free Resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
Knowing Where to Turn
When a child is born deaf or hard-of-hearing, there is an adjustment process for the parents: over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Parents are faced with overwhelming decisions: which way to communicate, where to find the right resources, and how to afford hearing aids, which are generally not covered by medical insurance.
There are many free resources and educational items available for parents and children. This article aims to provide a comprehensive list of free educational resources, support, and products for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
The John Tracy Clinic
Founded in 1943 by Louise Tracy (the wife of actor Spencer Tracy), the John Tracy Clinic has been offering parents quality information on raising deaf and hard-of-hearing children for years. All of the material offered by the clinic is absolutely free, and the website offers an "ask the audiologist" feature for parents confused by testing results.
The Clinic also offers a free international correspondence course. Parents are mailed a series of lessons and follow the curriculum at home with their infants and preschoolers. Upon completing a report on the child's response to the lessons, the parent is provided with feedback from the world-class staff at the clinic.
A free preschool summer session is also available, providing an amazing educational opportunity for parents and children. The summer course lasts for three weeks, and is entirely free of charge. Parents must pay for lodging and food for the course of the trip, but subsidized housing at the nearby Annenberg Apartments is available (part of the USC campus).
Dreams Made Real Parent Kit and DVD
For parents considering a spoken communication path, a parent kit is available from the Oral Deaf Education Organization. The kit includes a 23 minute DVD, a five-year follow-up film, and a 60 minute long original film titled "Dreams Spoken Here."
The kit also includes a parent handbook for making communication choices, article reprints, and a suggested reading list. The parent kit is entirely free and will be mailed to a residence or downloaded from the website.
Hearing Health Magazine
A quarterly publication, Hearing Health Magazine is entirely free. Articles range from exploring new technology to personal stories from people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This magazine is part of the Deafness Research Foundation, and is also available for electronic download from the website.
ASL Worksheets and Coloring Pages
Your Dictionary offers a listing of free ASL worksheets, lesson plans, and coloring pages. In addition, a link to Gallaudet's ASL alphabet font is provided. ASL is a language and cannot be learned from a set of documents, but the worksheets and coloring pages are a wonderful introduction for young children. The material can also be used with classmates to provide a basic understanding of sign language and how communication can occur without sound.
Financial Assistance with Hearing Aids
Parents often find it a shock when hearing aids are not covered by medical insurance. With a price tag of approximately $5,000 for quality digital hearing aids, parents often scramble for funding in the attempt to give their baby access to sound as early as possible.
The Hearing Loss Association of America offers a full listing of financial resources to aid families searching for a way to fund a hearing aid purchase.
The Lions Club has initiated the Affordable Hearing Aid Project, and many local Lions Clubs are willing to aid families in acquiring hearing aids.