Hearing Screening

In Iowa, newborn hearing screens are completed in the hospital shortly after birth.  A hearing screen is a quick and painless test to see how well your baby hears different sounds.  Your baby will either pass or not pass the screening.  If your baby did not pass the hearing screen it does not mean that your baby has a hearing loss.  Not all babies pass the hearing screen the first time.  If your baby did not pass, an outpatient hearing screen is recommended by one month of age.  An outpatient hearing screen is also recommended if there are concerns about hearing or if your child has a hearing risk factor.

If you have concerns about your child’s hearing and your child was born in the hospital and was cared for in the well baby nursery, your next step is to have an outpatient screen completed at your local Area Education Agency or hospital.

If you have concerns about your child’s hearing and your child was born in the hospital and was cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery or NICU, your baby should return to the hospital or see a pediatric audiologist at a diagnostic audiology center near you.

If your child was born outside of a hospital a hearing screen can be completed at your local Area Education Agency, private audiologist or local hospital.

To be connected to a hearing screening provider in your area, complete the Request Services Form or contact an intake and referral specialist at 1-888-425-4371.

Iowa’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program provides resources for hearing screening, diagnosis, interventions, family support and resources for newborn to three year old children and their families. For more information visit Iowa’s EHDI Program website.

Diagnostic Assessments and Diagnosis

A diagnostic assessment is done to determine if hearing loss is present and, if so, to detail the type and degree of the hearing loss. If your newborn undergoes screening (at or close to birth and an outpatient screen) and does not pass their screens, it is recommended they receive a diagnostic assessment before three months of age. The diagnostic assessment measures the brain’s response to sound through sensors that are placed on the head. The child will need to be still and quiet, or asleep, for accurate test results. Not all audiology providers are able to provide this test for young infants. If the child is beyond three months of age or they are unable to get accurate test results, a sedated diagnostic assessment may be considered.

Here is a list of diagnostic audiology centers in Iowa and the surrounding states. For assistance, fill out the Request Services Form or contact an intake and referral specialist at 1-888-425-4371.

If the diagnostic assessment results in a diagnosis of hearing loss, you and your family will play an essential role in your child’s development. IFSN is here to connect you to information and education about your child’s hearing loss, as well as services and support to nurture their growth and development


Early Intervention

After diagnostic testing shows that your baby has a hearing loss, or is at-risk for hearing loss, it is important that conversations begin about intervention options. Early intervention focuses on helping babies and toddlers learn skills that typically develop during the first three years of life. Hearing loss can affect a child’s development of speech and language skills. When a child has difficulty hearing, the areas of the brain used for communication may not develop appropriately. The language deficit can cause learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement. By intervening early, speech, communication and other developmental delays can be reduced or avoided.

Iowa’s early intervention system is called Early ACCESS. Early ACCESS provides services to children from birth to age three, in the home and at no cost to families. The focus of Early ACCESS is to support parents to help their children learn and grow throughout their everyday activities and routines. This means Early ACCESS service providers work with parents and other caregivers to help their children develop to their fullest potential. For more information on Early ACCESS, complete the Request Services form or contact an intake & referral specialist at 1-888-425-4371.  If you want to get started with Early ACCESS, refer your child now by completing the referral form. After the referral form is filled out a service coordinator will contact you. The service coordinator will explain Early ACCESS and obtain consent for participation.

In addition to Early ACCESS there are many services that may be covered by your health insurance including audiologists, ENTs, and therapies for speech, occupational and physical goals. Speak with your child’s pediatrician to get started.


Family Support and Resources

As a family who is learning about your child’s hearing loss, we know you may be feeling many emotions. You may feel unsure, overwhelmed or other emotions related to decisions you are facing ahead. What does this mean? What should I know? Where do I even start? There is so much information to learn and knowing where to start can be confusing. The Iowa Family Support Network is ready to connect you to community resources and support.

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program provides a variety of family support for families who have a child (newborn to three) who is deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Parent Mentors – Connect with families, like yours, with experience raising a young child who is deaf or hard of hearing. Parent Mentors are parents or caregivers trained to support you in an unbiased way. They will share knowledge, experience and emotional support with the family they are matched with.
  • Deaf Partners – Connect to an adult who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Deaf Partners are Deaf adults trained to provide unbiased support. They will share knowledge, experience and emotional support with your family. Deaf Partners will provide a connection to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and Deaf Culture. They can support American Sign Language learning for interested families.
  • Events – Connect through events. Events are provided throughout the year to connect you to other families, providers, resources, information, and stories. Stay up-to-date by checking the EHDI website and join the email list by emailing ccid@idph.iowa.gov.
  • Resources – Connect to resources and information through the website, E-News and the EHDI Family Support Coordinator. The Family Support Coordinator can connect you with resources and answer questions related to your journey.

If you are interested in family support for your family visit the EHDI family support website or please contact the EHDI program:

  • Heather Dirks, EHDI Family Support Coordinator, at (515) 344-2710 or heather.dirks@idph.iowa.gov
  • EHDI Program at (800) 833-436-8040; fax 515-242-6013 or ccid@idph.iowa.gov

Additional Resources:

My Baby’s Hearing


Sign It – American Sign language Classes

What financial resources are available?

There are a number of options available in regards to financial assistance and health coverage for families with children who develop hearing loss. Our staff is dedicated to connecting you to the resources that are right for you.

The first step for financial assistance for hearing aids and audiological services is to check with your health insurance provider and speak with your audiologist.

  • Medicaid – Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to those eligible.
  • Medicaid for Kids with Special Needs (MKSN) – MKSN is a program available to those eligible, that helps pay medical bills for children with special needs due to a disability.
  • Hawki – The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is offered through the Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa program, also known as Hawki. Iowa offers Hawki health coverage for uninsured children of working families.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – SSI provides monthly cash payments to help meet the basic needs of children who have a disability. If you care for a child with a profound hearing loss and have limited income and savings or other resources, your child may be eligible for SSI.
  • Children at Home – Children at Home is designed to assist you and your family in securing the services and supports you identify as necessary in helping your child. Financial assistance is intended to enable you to obtain those services and supports which are not met by other programs. Visit the Children at Home page on this site for information on how to apply or contact an intake & referral specialist at 1-888-425-4371.
  • Iowa Compass – Iowa Compass connects people with disabilities and complex health-related needs to services and supports in their communities throughout Iowa.
  • Iowa Department of Health & Human Services – Limited funding was made possible through an appropriation by the Iowa Legislature during the last legislative session. The intent of this funding is to provide payment for hearing aids and/or audiological services for children who otherwise would not be able to afford these services.