Infant Hearing Program
The Ontario Infant Hearing Program (IHP) was implemented in 2001 and is a comprehensive program with goals that:
- Identify infants born deaf or hard of hearing through universal newborn hearing screening;
- Provide audiology assessment with appropriate monitoring and intervention services including hearing aid and other assistive device fittings by 6 months of age, and monitoring infants "at risk" for developing permanent hearing loss (PHL);
- Provide infants and families with supports and services needed to develop language and literacy skills to prepare them for social and academic success to the best of their abilities; and
- Monitor children born with or who acquire risk indicators for PHL.
The IHP is an early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) program which includes universal newborn hearing screening, surveillance screening of infants and children identified as having a risk factor(s) for late onset or progressive hearing loss, hearing assessment, intervention for infants and children identified with permanent hearing loss and family support.
When a newborn does not pass the screening, there is a possibility of hearing loss and further testing is necessary. The infant is then referred for a full audiological assessment with an IHP Audiologist who has been trained in this protocol and registered with the College of Audiologists and Speech/Language Pathologists (CASLPO). This assessment is conducted to confirm the presence or absence of a PHL and an "audiogram" is completed with specific information on each ear along with the severity and type of hearing loss.
The IHP Audiologist evaluates the need for assistive technology and provides hearing aids according to IHP protocols. Most hearing aids are partially funded through other provincial programs such as Assistive Devices Program (ADP), and Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD), as eligibility permits.