Educating Children Who
Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:
ERIC EC Digest #E552 August 1997
Is Meant by the Auditory-Verbal Approach?
The goal of auditory-verbal practice is for children who
are deaf or hard of hearing to grow up in "typical" learning
and living environments that enable them to become independent, participating,
and contributing citizens in an inclusive mainstream society. The auditory-verbal
philosophy supports the basic human right that children with all degrees
of hearing loss deserve an opportunity to develop the ability to listen
and use verbal communication within their own family and community constellations.
The auditory-verbal philosophy follows a logical and critical
set of guiding principles that outline the essential requirements needed
to increase the likelihood that young children who are deaf or hard of
hearing can be educated to use even minimal amounts of residual (remaining)
hearing. Use of amplified residual hearing permits these children to learn
to listen, to process verbal language, and to speak.
The principles of auditory-verbal practice are:
- Working toward
the earliest possible identification of hearing loss in infants and
young children, ideally in the newborn nursery. Conducting an aggressive
program of audiologic management.
- Seeking the best
available sources of medical treatment and technological amplification
of sound for the child who is deaf or hard of hearing as early as possible.
- Helping the child
understand the meaning of any sounds heard, including spoken language,
and teaching the child's parents how to make sound meaningful to the
child all day long.
- Helping the child
learn to respond and to use sound in the same way that children with
normal hearing learn.
- Using the child's
parents as the most important models for learning speech and spoken
- Working to help
children develop an inner auditory system so that they are aware of
their own voice and will work to match what he or she says with what
they hear others say.
- Knowing how children
with normal hearing develop sound awareness, listening, language, and
intellect and using this knowledge to help children with hearing impairments
learn new skills.
- Observing and evaluating
the child's development in all areas. Changing the child's training
program when new needs appear.
- Helping children
who are deaf or hard of hearing participate educationally and socially
with children who have normal hearing by supporting them in regular
- (The 1991 Auditory-Verbal
International organization developed these principles of Auditory-Verbal
practice based on the work of Pollack, 1970, 1985.)
Who Can Use the Auditory-Verbal Option?
The auditory-verbal option is an early intervention strategy.
It is not a set of principles for classroom teaching. The purpose is to
teach auditory-verbal principles to the parents of very young children
who are deaf or hard of hearing. Therefore, any family with a young child,
regardless of the severity of the hearing loss, can choose the auditory-verbal
option. As with all early intervention programs, the younger the child
is identified as being deaf or hard of hearing, the better. All children
in auditory-verbal program will need comprehensive and aggressive audiologic
management. In the United States, the auditory-verbal approach is usually
conducted by private clinics, therapists, and programs, although some
publicly funded projects embrace auditory-verbal principles.
What Are the Benefits of the Auditory-Verbal Option?
The majority of parents of children who are deaf or hard
of hearing have hearing within normal limits. Parents in auditory-verbal
programs therefore do not need to learn sign language or cued speech.
In auditory-verbal intervention programs, parents are returned their natural
parenting role. Auditory-verbal therapy sessions typically address speech,
language, and auditory goals with the therapist working in partnership
with the parents so that the parents can model communication strategies
with their child throughout the child's daily life.
Results of a study of graduates of auditory-verbal programs
in the United States and Canada (Goldberg & Flexer, 1993) showed that
the majority of the respondents were integrated into "regular"
learning and living environments. Graduates often had been mainstreamed
in their local schools, attended post-secondary institutions that are
not specifically designed for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing,
and were involved in typical community activities. In addition, reading
skills of auditory-verbal children have been demonstrated to equal or
exceed those of their hearing peers (Robertson & Flexer, 1993).
What Are the Limitations of the Auditory-Verbal Option?
The auditory-verbal approach depends highly on parental
involvement. It is not a classroom approach but a style of interaction
between parent and child. If the parents are unable to commit to the intensity
of involvement required, then the child may not make as much progress
as she or he could. Further, the auditory-verbal centers and practitioners
usually are found in areas of denser population and may not be easily
accessible to families in rural and remote areas. Finally, many auditory-verbal
centers are not supported by public funds, so a fee for services may be
requested, although scholarships may be available.
What Are Some Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Auditory-Verbal
As with any intervention option, the method selected must
match the family's needs versus one selected by well-meaning professionals.
The most important question for parents would then be, "Is the auditory-verbal
approach right for my child and our family?" The parent might ask
such questions as:
- How much time will
be involved at the center and at home?
- Where is the closest
auditory-verbal center located, and will I be able to get there consistently?
- What is the relationship
between the center or therapist and the school my child will attend
in the future?
References and Additional Resources
Auditory-Verbal International (1991). Auditory-verbal
Estabrooks, W. (1994). (ed.). Auditory-verbal therapy.
Washington, DC: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.
Goldberg, D. (1994) (ed.). Auditory-verbal philosophy:
A tutorial. The Volta Review, 95 (3), 181-262.
Goldberg, D., & Flexer, C. (1993). Outcome survey
of auditory-verbal graduates: A study of clinical efficacy. Journal of
the American Academy of Audiology, 4, 189-200.
Ling, D. (1989). Foundations of spoken language for hearing-impaired
children. Washington, DC: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.
Ling, D., & Ling, A. (1978). Aural habilitation: The
foundations ofverbal learning in hearing-impaired children. Washington,
DC: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.
Pollack, D. (1985). Educational audiology for the limited-hearing
infant and preschooler (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Pollack, D. (1970). Educational audiology for the limited-hearing
infant Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Robertson, L., & Flexer, C. (1993). Reading development:
A parent survey of children with hearing impairment who developed speech
and language through the auditory-verbal method. The Volta Review, 95
Auditory-Verbal International, Inc. (AVI) is an international
organization of parent and professional members. AVI advocation for the
choice of listening and speaking for children who are deaf or hard of
hearing through education, and family support. The organization's quarterly
newsletter is The Auricle, and separate parent and "Kids Only"
publications are available to members. Additional information about the
auditory-verbal approach is available from:
- Auditory-Verbal International, Inc.
- 2121 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 402
- Alexandria, VA 22313-4688
- (703) 739-1049 (V); (703) 739-0874 (TDD)
- (703) 739-0395 (FAX)
Dr. Goldberg is an asssistant professor, The College
of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, and a board member of Auditory-Verbal, International.
He is the former Executive Director of the Helen Beebe Speech and Hearing
Center in Easton, PA.
Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
The Council for Exceptional Children
1920 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Toll Free: 1.800.328.0272
ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely
reproduced and disseminated, but please acknowledge your source. This
publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research
and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. RR93002005.
The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions
of policies of OERI or the Department of Education.