New Texting Program Helps Families Navigate a Hearing Loss Diagnosis in Infants and Toddlers

Messages Provide Trusted Information and Support at Critical Juncture

HEAR Program Is a Collaboration of ASHA, Bright by Text, and HATCH Lab

May 6, 2024: A new text messaging program announced today by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Bright by Text, and the Helping Adults Talk to Children (HATCH) Lab at Idaho State University will put trusted information into the hands of families with children who have—or may have—hearing loss.

In the United States, 3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. More than 90% of deaf children are born to parents who hear, which can make the news of a hearing loss very unexpected. It is critical that all families with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing have access to clear, accurate information that explains the communication options for their child and how they can best support their child’s development.

“A hearing loss diagnosis can be scary, overwhelming, and isolating for parents of infants and toddlers—particularly if hearing loss doesn’t run in the family,” said Tena McNamara, AuD, CCC-A/SLP, 2024 ASHA President. “But there are ways to mitigate that. Through this new program, we hope to empower parents with information; connect them to professionals and peers for services and support; and help them to feel confident about the future for their child and family.”

“We are so proud to partner with ASHA and HATCH Lab on this new program,” said Jodie Fishman, MPH, Chief Content Officer for Bright by Text. “Our goal is to give all children the brightest possible start, and with these messages, we aim to help families feel more secure in their choices and better prepared to raise a child with hearing challenges.”

Hearing Loss in Young Children
Hearing loss in children can result from a variety of causes, including genetics, infections during pregnancy, or atypical ear anatomy. It can range in degree from mild to profound—and can occur in one ear or both.

Nearly all children in the United States receive a newborn hearing screening at birth. However, not all children who do not pass their newborn hearing screening get the needed follow-up testing and/or services. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 4 of these infants are missed due to “loss to follow-up,” when an infant needs a recommended service but does not receive it, or “loss to documentation,” when an infant receives services but the information is not reported to the state. Moreover, some children aren’t born with hearing loss but acquire it months or years later—from infections or illnesses, exposure to loud noise, or other causes. Consequently, it is important for families to be attuned to the signs of hearing loss at all ages, even if a child passed their newborn hearing screen.

Left unaddressed in infants and toddlers, hearing loss (even a mild hearing loss) can lead to delays in speech, language, and cognitive development. From birth to age 3, brain and communication development are fostered by exposure to language, including spoken and signed languages. If a child has an unknown or unaddressed hearing loss, they may miss out on some to all of that language during a critical period of development. Studies have shown that children identified at birth with hearing loss who begin receiving early intervention services before they are 6 months of age often develop language (spoken or signed) on par with peers who have typical hearing.

HEAR Program
Bright by Text delivers actionable information from trusted early childhood experts to more than 250,000 parents and caregivers of children, prenatally through age 8, across the United States. Bright by Text’s free text messages, tailored to a child’s exact age and the family’s zip code, are proven to build nurturing caregiver–child relationships, strengthen families, promote a child’s healthy development, and improve school readiness.

The HEAR program is a specialty track within Bright by Text’s larger network, specifically designed for families of children ages birth to 3 years with suspected or confirmed hearing loss. Messages are a mix of information and encouragement, delivered once per week for 6 months. The program is available in English and Spanish.

Subscriber surveys will be conducted at the program’s start, midpoint, and conclusion to determine the effectiveness of the text messages. HEAR messages were developed by ASHA, Bright by Text, and HATCH Lab professionals—and refined in collaboration with a group of parents within the HATCH Lab who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“The HEAR program is special because these messages were co-created by clinical experts—representing audiology, speech-language pathology, and pediatrics—and families who have ‘been there,’” noted Kristina Blaiser, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director of the HATCH Lab. “I believe families will find the messages tremendously valuable.”

The HEAR program marks the second collaboration between ASHA and Bright by Text on a specialty texting track. The first, the TALK program, was introduced in 2021 and is designed for parents of children ages 2–6 years with a suspected or diagnosed speech-language delay or disorder. In a survey of subscribers, 94% of families reported that those messages were helpful to them.

To subscribe to the HEAR program, text HEAR to 274-448. For more information, contact

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 234,000 members, certificate holders, and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

About Bright by Text
Through tips, information, games, and resources sent by text message, Bright by Text is proven to build nurturing caregiver–child relationships, strengthen families, promote a child’s healthy development, and improve school readiness. Messages are timed to a child’s exact age and zip code, prenatally through age 8, and offered in both English and Spanish. An independent study of Bright by Text found that the service helped parents feel less overwhelmed, led to higher levels of verbal interaction between parents and children, and supported age-appropriate language development in children. Bright by Text currently reaches the families of more than 250,000 kids across the United States.

About HATCH Lab
The HATCH (Helping Adults Talk to Children) Lab is located at Idaho State University in Meridian, Idaho. The HATCH Lab's mission is to ensure that adults have access to tools and resources to optimize the language of children through connection and engagement. To do this, the lab focuses on the development of clinically applicable resources and information related to early intervention and assessment of children who are deaf/hard-of-hearing (DHH). Integration of technology is a key aspect to ensuring equitable access to resources and information, regardless of geographic location.

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