Other Professionals

Other Professionals

As parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh), we often find ourselves helping to build our own team to assist us in meeting our child’s needs while we learn to understand what it means to be deaf or hard of hearing ourselves. While our first entry into the world might be from a medical perspective, soon we learn how important early education is. The D/HH community also plays a critical role in giving us a sense of what is possible for our growing child. Once we find our way into this world, we find that many people, including experienced parents, have made it their life’s work to support other parents of young children.

Here are some of the professions outside of audiology and physicians specializing in hearing (mentioned in the Family Guide as whom you can expect to meet and may want to seek out during your child’s early journey). Certainly, not all families connect with all of these various providers. For more information, seek out your parent-to-parent organization, including your local Hands & Voices Chapter.    

Early Intervention (EI) Staff 

These are the birth to three-year-old specialists in child development, sometimes known as Part C services. Part C is the birth-to-three section of the special education law knows as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA). You may have been referred by your pediatric audiologist to early intervention, or you can refer yourself.  It is likely that your first contact would be with a service coordinator, who can tell you what is available in your area and connect you with EI providers who will come to your home.

  • Find your state or territory Part C agency if you are not already connected. They can help you reach your local provider, which might have a different name than your statewide agency. See the list here.
  • Qualifications of early interventionists: Most Part C providers are “generalists”, calling in specialized support providers as needed for deaf/hard of hearing children, including those with additional needs. The Joint Commission on Infant Hearing (JCIH) supports that at least one member of your child’s team is an expert on deafness and can connect you with resources and parent support groups in deafness and other conditions as needed. See more about this in the Parent’s Guide to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Early Intervention Recommendations: https://www.handsandvoices.org/resources/jcih-parent-guide.html
  • Read about a family’s experience with a first Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) as part of the beginning of Early Intervention for their child who is deaf and has congenital Cytomegalovirus, a virus their baby had at birth. https://handsandvoices.org/
  • The JCIH Position Statement for Early Intervention will give you a broad view of the professionals and principles included in quality programs:  https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1324
  • What about tele-intervention? Like tele-audiology, tele-intervention (or remote home visits) is available in many areas with interpreters and captioning provided for accessibility. Therapists use a parent-coaching model and work closely with parents to help babies and toddlers reach language milestones.
    Unsure about tele-intervention for your young child? See this video and discuss your concerns with the agency. https://www.zerotothree.org/
  • See the interview with a parent in English and Spanish on the telehealth landing page.

Educational Audiologists

Educational audiologists are hearing healthcare professionals who work in schools with children who are deaf and hard of hearing to make sure they receive appropriate communication accessibility and other supports in the classroom. They assess children’s hearing and functional listening skills, identify and fit hearing assistive technology, manage and troubleshoot equipment, manage classroom acoustics to reduce background noise and reverberation, teach the child and staff how to use hearing assistive technology appropriately, and advocate for classroom accommodations. Educational audiologists are an important member of the IEP team as children transition from early intervention to preschool and on to school-age services. Beyond the classroom, they coordinate hearing screenings for school districts (birth to 21) in an effort to find children who may benefit from additional supports. 

For more information visit the Educational Audiology Association website.

“What a difference it makes when you find a professional and a team who is the right fit for your child’s particular needs.”

- Parent

Deaf Mentors and D/HH Adult Role Models

Speech/Language Pathologists (SLP)

  • This is a specialist in the diagnosis and therapy for children (and adults) with speech and language challenges. An SLP may be part of your EI team or added as an additional service as your child grows. Finding a therapist with experience in seeing kids who are D/HH is important.  See the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) for more specific information. https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Permanent-Childhood-Hearing-Loss/

Teachers of the Deaf/hard of hearing (TOD)

  • A TOD is a specialist in education for children who are D/HH, providing specialized instruction and collaborating with audiology for children using amplification. A TOD may be a member of your EI team or the transition team from EI to school-based services (Part B) before your child turns three-years-old.  
  • Read more about the role of the TOD in early childhood settings and beyond in Optimizing Outcomes for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, 2019: http://www.nasdse.org/docs/nasdse-3rd-ed-7-11-2019-final.pdf

Additional supports you may encounter: (see https://www.babyhearing.org/language-learning/additional-services)

“If our child’s center-based preschool teacher had not tracked her listening skills, we would not have noticed her progressive hearing loss at age four so quickly. The educational audiologist confirmed her findings, and that fast-tracked us to more powerful hearing aids. Our late-identified daughter did not have time to lose during those critical language-learning years. Find or build your team that works well together on behalf of your child.”

- Lonnie Burkholder, father

Genetic Counselors

JCIH notes that all families should be offered a genetics evaluation and/or counseling, to understand how parents pass some of their genes/characteristics to their children.  This information can possibly provide families the cause, any potentially associated conditions (kidneys, heart, vision), likelihood of worsening of hearing loss (progressive hearing loss) and likelihood of hearing loss reoccurring in future children or the children of close relatives. While hundreds of genes and many different syndromes have been identified, not all currently can be tested. This is a rapidly changing field and parents are encouraged to talk to a genetic counselor for the most current information before deciding about genetic testing. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/jehdi/vol4/iss2/1/


Annual vision screening or testing is recommended since vision issues are more common in children who are d/hh. Ensuring good visual access is important, and changes in vision can occur over time.  


JCIH recommends a referral to counselors and infant mental health specialists for families experiencing any difficulties with adjustment or attachment. Also, professionals knowledgeable about finding concrete supports for families to reduce stress, such as food, housing and other assistance are critical. Families can ask for this support directly from their IFSP teams or contact your Early Intervention agency here for more information. Information about how to best support Infant mental health should be available to all families through the EI program.  


Parents can benefit themselves and contribute to the knowledge in the various fields of study. Ask at your clinic or EI program about research opportunities that are available. Hands & Voices posts them regularly on social media.

Other Medical Professionals

  • Special education: Deafblind consultants, augmentative communication specialists, physical and/or occupational therapy, and other professionals may be needed on your IFSP team.
  • Other medical specialties: Neurology (epilepsy), Endocrinology, CHARGE syndrome, congenital Cytomegalovirus specialists, Down syndrome and others depending on your child’s needs: Your family will benefit from these specialists and the family members with lived experience in these topics.

This project is supported by the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) through its grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $4,000,000 with 0% percentage financed with nongovernmental sources (Grant H7DMC37565). The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by AMCHP, HRSA, HHS, or the US Government.