Checking Vision for Children with Hearing Loss


Most of what children with hearing loss learn is learned through seeing and hearing. We talk all the time about how important it is for children with hearing loss to hear well, but we don’t talk enough about the importance of vision. For children with hearing loss, vision is critical.


What do we learn from vision testing?

We want to be sure we identify any other disabilities that a child with hearing loss might have, and vision is certainly one thing that should be checked. There are some genetic disorders that have both hearing and vision components, so it is important to identify them early so any necessary treatment can be presented.


Literacy and vision

It is important that children with hearing loss develop good literacy skills since reading will be of a great assistance in learning. For many deaf children, who do not hear well in noisy situations, reading is a good way to gather information. Vision is obviously critical for reading. For children with some vision issues, e-books are very helpful because it is easy to increase the type size.


Other vision issues

Some children may have problems identifying color, others may have light tolerance problems.  Any visual issues need to be identified and managed.


Learning issues – vision and hearing loss

Children with hearing loss who are receiving auditory verbal therapy will be relying primarily on audition to learn  using listening, but children with hearing loss who are learning using a visual system (sign language, cued speech, or an oral method that emphasizes lipreading, will have more problems if they have a vision problem.


So to summarize

Vision matters – even if a child is learning primarily through an auditory path. It is important to keep be sure we know how a child with hearing loss sees. We need to monitor hearing as well as all other developmental issues so we can be sure children are the best they can be.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 7 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.