This page has been developed with the support from a grant from the
Colorado Commission for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing.
What is ‘Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus’?
“Deaf/hh Plus is meant to be a positive term, not in any way negative or insensitive to the child who has medical issues along with hearing loss. In fact, I see it as an “A+” or “B+,” meaning the child carries additional positive qualities. But it is a gift that needs to be carefully unwrapped. And it may not appear to be a gift when you first receive it. Time helps you appreciate, understand and unfold the possibilities. And the “Plus” most often means the child and family has added responsibilities and requires additional expertise.” – Candace Lindow-Davies, Hands & Voices HQ, written when affiliated with MN Hands & Voices
Who are Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus?
Estimated to be between 30 to 60% of the Deaf/hh population
- Additional challenges may include:
- Intellectual/cognitive disabilities
- Cytomegalovirus (congenital CMV)
- Emotional and behavioral disabilities
- Learning disabilities
- Down Syndrome
- Vision loss or blindness
- Cerebral palsy
- Autism: See Deaf+Autism page
- Craniofacial differences: Microtia, atresia, Goldenhar, Moebius, and related syndromes
- Other physical disabilities
- Other conditions
- Giftedness, or twice-exceptional, 2e (or thrice-exceptional)
The Heart of the Issue
- The combined effect of hearing loss and a disability presents a unique and complex challenge to professionals and parents.
- A review of the literature yields little specific information on successful educational strategies and programs for such children.
- The most important factor in student success is early identification and early placement in an appropriate program.
- Are social-emotional needs addressed? Are the strategies used effective?
- See a resource for families developed by the CDC Parent to Parent Committee: https://handsandvoices.org/resources/pubs/DHH-Plus_connecting-families.pdf
What Materials and Strategies are used with Children who are Deaf/HH Plus?
- Appropriate assessments by providers specially trained in Deaf/hh and disabilities
- Experts of each disability involved to assess impact
- A high level of structure and collaboration among the whole team
- Specific, clearly stated objectives
- A focus on the individual needs of each child
- Instruction that is step-by-step in nature
- Practical experiences in natural environments
- Consistent routines
- Age-appropriate materials are important
- A focus on motivating the child
- Provision of successful experiences
- An emphasis on the student’s skills in given situations, not on his or her limitations
- Over-learning (going over a skill after it seems to be mastered) is good and much repetition may be necessary
- Planning for the transfer of instruction to real-life situations
Some of the content of this page comes from a presentation done at the 2012 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference, “I Push When I Want to Say “Hello”: The Social/Emotional Needs of the Child who is ‘Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus’” by Candace Lindow-Davies and Patti Silva. (for specific citations/references of materials used in this presentation, contact Janet@handsandvoices.org)
Additional articles are archived on the Hands & Voices website.