Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

About the Newborn Hearing Program

Are you a parent of a child who is suspected to have or has a hearing loss? Are you a professional who is seeking additional resources related to early hearing identification and intervention? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, we hope you will find information on this site that will be of benefit to you.

The Newborn Hearing Program at the University of Tennessee’s Center on Deafness is funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration grant under the authorization of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program, also known as the Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS) program. This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee. The Tennessee EHDI/NHS program is housed in Nashville within the Department of Women’s Health and Genetics. The Center on Deafness (UT COD) is located on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The UT COD Newborn Hearing team develops and implements projects that further the mission of Tennessee’s EHDI/NHS Program and their national goals.

Newborn Hearing in Tennessee

Permanent hearing loss occurs in approximately two to three babies per 1,000 births. To make sure each baby with hearing loss is identified shortly after birth, Tennessee law requires hospitals to screen all babies before discharge.
The process of newborn hearing screening is called a “process” because the hospital screen is the┬ábeginning of a series of events that need to take place if the screening indicates a need for more testing. If a baby passes their newborn hearing screening, consideration should also be given as to how that baby’s hearing will be monitored as he or she grows.
Managing hearing loss in babies and children is a team effort in Tennessee. The Center on Deafness Newborn Hearing Program is proud to be a part of this important team. If you should have questions relating to your child or a child you serve in our state, please feel free to contact someone listed under “Our Team.”

National EHDI Mission

The mission of EHDI programs is for every state and territory in the United States to have EHDI services that ensure children with hearing loss achieve communication and social skills commensurate with their cognitive abilities. To do this, it is essential that infants are screened at birth, those with hearing loss be identified early, and appropriate intervention services be initiated in a timely manner. Without early identification and intervention, children with hearing loss may experience delays in the development of language, cognitive, and social skills that may prevent success in academic and occupational achievement.

Tennessee EHDI Goals

Tennessee’s EHDI/NHS program has a set of specific program objectives that are essential in carrying out the national EHDI mission. These goals reflect the recommendations of other national organizations such as the Department of Health Resources and Services Administration: Maternal Child Health Bureau (HRSA/MCHB); National Institute of Health: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH/NIDCD); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH); American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); and American Academy of Audiology (AAA).

  • All infants should have access to hearing screening using a physiologic measure before one month of age.
  • All infants who do not pass the initial hearing screen and the subsequent re-screening should have appropriate audiological and medical evaluations to confirm the presence of hearing loss before three months of age.
  • All infants with confirmed permanent hearing loss should receive intervention services before six months of age. A simplified, single point of entry into an intervention system appropriate to children with hearing loss is optimal.
  • The EHDI system should be family centered with infant and family rights and privacy guaranteed through informed choice, shared decision making, and parental consent. Families should have access to information about all intervention and treatment options and counseling regarding hearing loss.
  • The child and family should have immediate access to high-quality technology, including hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices when appropriate.
  • All infants and children should be monitored for hearing loss in the medical home. Continued assessment of communication development should be provided by appropriate providers to all children with or without risk indicators for hearing loss.
  • Appropriate interdisciplinary intervention programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and their families should be provided by professionals knowledgeable about childhood hearing loss. Intervention programs should recognize and build on strengths, informed choices, traditions, and cultural beliefs of the families.
  • Information systems should be used to measure outcomes and report the effectiveness of EHDI services at the community, state, and federal levels.

(Objectives as stated in 2007 Position Statement from the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing)