NCRA cosponsors luncheon focused on improving outcomes for children with hearing issues

On June 11, NCRA joined a number of organizations to cosponsor a briefing luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. The luncheon, which was held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., featured experts discussing programs that are designed to improve outcomes for children who are born deaf or hard of hearing.

Rep. David McKinley addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

Rep. David McKinley addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

The Congressional caucus, which aims to broaden support and knowledge of hearing health care issues within Congress and provide an educational setting for discussion of issues related to hearing health, is chaired by both Reps. David McKinley and Mike Thompson. Reps. McKinley and Thompson both served as honorary hosts of the event.

Speakers at the luncheon event included Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Dana Suskind, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“NCRA has long supported the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and appreciates the value it brings to the constituents and stakeholders of the many organizations that support it,” said Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Relations.

“NCRA looks forward to continuing to be an active friend of the group and bringing awareness to lawmakers and the public about the many issues that surround broadcast and CART captioning, hearing health, and issues that affect individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” he added.

Rep. Lois Capps addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

Rep. Lois Capps addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

The briefing focused on efforts to follow-up with children who are born deaf or hard of hearing to ensure the best outcome possible. Dr. Fitzgerald examined Georgia’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention follow-up programs, while Dr. Suskind spoke about the 30 Million Words initiative, which she founded to focus on the importance of early exposure to language.

Newborn hearing screening programs have been implemented in all 50 states with funding provided by Congress through the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention program that was first authorized in 2000. EHDI programs include hearing screenings at birth, diagnostic evaluations to confirm hearing status, and early intervention including medical services, early intervention programs, and family support. When EHDI was first approved in 2000, only 44 percent of newborns had their hearing screened; however, the implementation of EHDI nationwide has resulted in nearly universal hearing screening at birth with 98 percent of newborns screened. Reps. Brett Guthrie and Lois Capps have introduced legislation (HR1344) to reauthorize EHDI this year.

In addition to NCRA, other Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus include: A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Academy of Doctors of Audiology; American Academy of Audiology; American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; American Cochlear Implant Alliance; American Speech-Language Hearing Association; Hearing Network Alliance; International Hearing Society; National Association of the Deaf; Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. To learn more about the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Caucus, contact Adam Finkel at afinkel@ncra.org.