LATE ONSET HEARING LOSS AWARENESS WEEK
MAY 4 - MAY 10
What is Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week?
Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness week was established in May 2021 to shine a spotlight on a population of young children who go unnoticed and undiagnosed because they passed the newborn hearing screen, but developed hearing loss later on. Sometimes these children are not discovered for months or years following the onset of their hearing loss. Genetics, congenital illness, certain childhood syndromes and infections, head trauma, exposure to ototoxic medications, and excessive noise can all lead to hearing loss after birth, but sometimes the cause of it is unknown. The goal of this annual campaign is to raise community awareness so that families, childcare providers, preschools, pediatricians and others who observe or suspect missed developmental milestones in early childhood will ask the question, “Could this be linked to hearing loss?”
Established by Justin Osmond, CEO of the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness will be promoted each year, from May 4 - May 10. As the week occurs towards the end of the U.S. school year, the campaign seeks to emphasize the importance of looking back and looking closely at every child’s development and recommending proactive, ongoing hearing health monitoring and assessment between birth and 5 years of age. The theme of our inaugural year is “Take Notice, Take Action.”
The CDC estimates that nearly 15% of children ages 6-18 years of age have some level of permanent hearing loss. While newborn hearing screening data is reported and tracked each year, children who develop hearing loss after birth often go unnoticed, undiagnosed and untreated - leading to speech, language, cognitive and developmental delays and social/emotional problems. Some studies suggest that Late Onset Hearing Loss (which is defined as hearing loss that occurs after birth and before kindergarten) may be as common, or perhaps more common, than congenital hearing loss.
Annual Campaign Objective
Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week seeks to accomplish several things:
Emphasize the importance of ongoing hearing health monitoring of all children, but especially those with specific risk factors and those demonstrating any developmental delays.
Improve social, emotional and academic outcomes for all deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
Connect families of children with hearing loss to helpful information and resources, especially families who cannot afford the out of pocket costs for hearing aids or other hearing technology.
Celebrate the potential of every child who is deaf and hard of hearing by highlighting stories of hope from families and providers.
In October 2020, approximately six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Justin Osmond and the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund received a heartfelt proposal from a parent of a child with hearing loss. Valerie James Abbott of Richmond, Virginia was the mother of a child who was diagnosed with late onset hearing loss in 2008 during toddlerhood. She had witnessed first hand what undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss can do to language acquisition and important developmental milestones -- as her daughter, Bridget, had lost her hearing after birth. But, she had also seen what happens when immediate action is taken and the child receives a prompt diagnosis, access to hearing technology and early intervention services, and parent-to-parent support. Over the next few years, Valerie met other families with similar stories and that raised her concern about the number of children with late onset hearing loss falling through the cracks and the long term impacts on the lives of children who remain unidentified or undiagnosed.
Justin Osmond, CEO of the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, shared Valerie’s passion for increasing awareness so that all children with hearing loss are quickly identified, connected to appropriate hearing technology and resources, and set up for success in school and in life. Together, they established Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week to begin in May 2021. May 4 was selected as the first day of the week long awareness campaign in honor of Olive Osmond’s birthday, Justin’s grandmother, and her enduring message of perseverance, generosity and hope.
The theme behind our inaugural year is “Take Notice, Take Action.” During COVID-19, more young children are spending time at home and less time in preschool programs and traditional daycare settings. In many states, young children and their caretakers are required to wear masks - making it more difficult for all children to hear and be heard. The most at risk population for language acquisition are those children who have an unknown and undiagnosed hearing loss. “Take Notice, Take Action” encourages everyone connected to small children to look closely at their developmental milestones, especially speech and language (Take Notice) and if any developmental delays are suspected to talk about it and have those concerns evaluated (Take Action.) Submit your ideas for next year’s campaign by November 1 to:
How to Celebrate Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week
Individuals, organizations and businesses are invited to participate and spread the word!
Organize an Activity or Event
Invite a local pediatric audiology practice, university audiology program, or local health department to set up free pediatric hearing screening at a community center and contact your local television station.
Send Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week: Take Notice, Take Action flyers home to parents, highlighting the importance of hearing screening if developmental delays are a concern. Invite your state’s CDC Act Early Ambassador to speak at your school or preschool about monitoring every child’s milestones.
Dedicate one week in your home, daycare, preschool or elementary school around books, stories, activities and crafts focused on what we hear and how our ears work or books about children with hearing loss.
Partner with the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund or another national or local non-profit on a fundraiser to benefit local families of children with hearing loss.
Post one message a day on social media using images from the Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week Social Media Images Gallery below.
Encourage Your Local Government to Issue a Proclamation
Anyone can petition their local government to issue a Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week Proclamation or establish an official designated date through their state legislature. This is a great way to involve families and hearing health professionals in your local community and educate the public about the importance of ongoing hearing health monitoring of preschool-age and school-age children beyond newborn hearing screening.
Tell Us About Your Success!
The Olive Osmond Hearing Fund is eager to hear more about the events, activities, and partnerships you established as part of Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week!
Email your activity or event details to so we can feature them on social media.
Did your school, agency or organization create your own flyers for this year’s Late Onset Hearing Loss Awareness Week? That’s Awesome! Send us a copy or a photo of your design:
Tag us on social media (Facebook and Instagram) #LOHLAwareness #hearingfund