Minnesota Hands and Voices


Frequently Asked Questions

Now that I know my child has hearing loss, what are my next steps?

If you are a parent just starting on your journey, knowing what to do next may seem confusing. A "roadmap" has been created to guide parents who are unfamiliar with what lies ahead.

MN Department of Health Parent Roadmap: go to and search for "Parent Roadmap"

Besides knowing where to go, MN Hands & Voices has teamed up with local experts to conduct educational workshops for new parents. View the recordings of these discussions here:

Next Steps: Understanding Special Education Webinar

Next Steps: Interactive Discussion with Medical Professionals Webinar

How do I understand my child's audiogram?

An important first step towards becoming a good advocate for your child is to understand his/her hearing level. Your child’s clinical audiologist is a great resource and can describe the type and level of hearing loss and its impact on speech perception.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a tool called “Questions to Ask Your Child’s Audiologist.” You can bring this to your audiologist and take notes. Your child’s educational audiologist should help you understand the impact of hearing loss in the classroom. Linking both the clinical and educational audiologist to one another will also be very helpful. To find this, go to and download the pdf

This "What is an Audiogram?" animation is another helpful resource.

The Supporting Success for Children With Hearing Loss website provides links for
Demonstrations: Simulated Listening with Hearing Loss & Devices
Simulations include:
Listening with Hearing Loss
Listening with FM Systems
Listening with Cochlear Implants
Listening with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

Unilateral Simulation of Barber Shop (getting a haircut):
This is a video on Youtube with audio only (no actual video footage or image).
You will need a pair of headphones and a quiet place to close your eyes and listen. It’s a simulation of getting a haircut at a barber shop. With both headphones in, you can detect distance, location, and background sounds. After listening to it with both ear pieces (approx. 4 minutes), go back and take out one earpiece and listen a second time. 

How do I communicate with my child?

Deciding how to communicate with your child who is deaf or hard of hearing can be complex. Parents new to this journey may need additional assistance in determining what works best for their child and family. Help is available through professionals, parents, adults who themselves are deaf or hard of hearing and others.

Here are a few additional resources to consider:

EHDI Decision Guide to Communication can be downloaded HERE:

Hands & Voices: Communication Considerations

The Book of Choice, which includes these Considerations, is available for loan through the MN Hands & Voices lending library for Minnesota parents, made available to families of young children newly identified with hearing loss, and available for purchase through Hands & Voices.

Beginnings Book

This book is made available to families of young newly identified children, or available for purchase through Beginnings, Inc.

How can our family learn sign language?

Most experts agree the best way to learn sign language is from a native sign language user. Many resources exist to support your on-going skill development. One resource is MN Hands & Voices' own lending library.

Hands & Voices: ASL Information

Hands & Voices: Signed Exact English Information

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHS) is a great source for information about sign language mentors, classes and other resources.

There are also many online dictionaries which provide videos of each sign by a native user.
ASL Browser
Life Print
Fun Brain
Hand Speak

What is Cued Speech?

Cued Speech is a visual mode of communication in which mouth movements of speech combine with “cues” to make the sounds (phonemes) of traditional spoken languages look different. Cueing allows users who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have language / communication disorders to access the basic, fundamental properties of spoken languages through the use of vision.

Hands & Voices: Cued Speech Information

National Cued Speech Association

Where do I find other families like ours?

MN Hands & Voices is a rich, diverse community of families. By becoming active in our social events and educational workshops, parents, children and siblings can meet one another and share experiences. Our FOCUS newsletter is a great way to keep abreast of those opportunities and many more in the community. Your child's Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing can help you link with other families within the same school district and social or educational activities may also be available through your child's school or district. Our Parent Guides are also eager to individually introduce families to one another. Contact your local Parent Guide for more assistance.

If you are a parent or professional acting on behalf of a parent, and would like to be connected to another parent, please complete this form and send it to:

MN Hands & Voices
709 University Ave West
St Paul, MN 55104
Or send via email to 

Where do I find help for working with my child's school?

PACER’s mission is to “expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents.” PACER focuses on educational rights, with programs addressing special needs for all stages of childhood and all disabilities. Services include: staff support to answer questions and offer one-on-one help, publications, workshops for parents, legislative information, and a wide variety of programs such as early childhood, multicultural services, Health and Information Advocacy Center, and the Simon Technology Center.

What financial resources exist for hearing aids?

Hearing aids can be a considerable expense for any family. When insurance coverage is in question,Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provides this great resource:

MN Hearing Aid Insurance Law & Appeal Packet

Hearing Aid Financial Resources

Where can my family find a mentor who is deaf or hard of hearing?

PEPNet's Achieving Goals: Career Stories of Individuals Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Families looking for adult role models for their children will benefit by attending events meant for an audience of adults with hearing loss. The benefits of children interacting with adults is priceless.
Families can find great events listed in our FOCUS newsletter (link)
Other great resources for events are:
Another great resource for Deaf Mentors is available here:
DHHS Deaf Mentor Project

How do I know if a cochlear implant is right for my child?

Considering a cochlear implant for your child is a deeply personal decision. Some families would never entertain the idea, while others actively seek this option, and yet others may feel conflicted. Gathering lots of input from experts (such as your child’s audiologist, both clinical and educational), other families, adults who are deaf, and other trusted sources are all important. Not all children are candidates and many factors need to be considered. Similar to choosing how to communicate with your child, only your family will know if the decision is right. MN Hands & Voices staff can help you get in contact with implant centers, as well as other families and adults who have explored this option.

My child has hearing loss in one ear only. Should I be concerned?

Even though some people believe children with only one good hearing ear (unilateral hearing loss) will be fine, they are not fine.

Children with unilateral hearing loss are ten times more likely to develop learning difficulties when compared to children with two normal hearing ears.  Getting information about how to help your child is critical.  The good news is there are resources available.  See this brochure from the Minnesota Department of Health and consider joining this on-line parent-to-parent community supporting children w/ unilateral hearing loss.

There is also a very active yahoo group moderated by Teresa Kazemir (BC H & Voices) and Chresta Brinkman (CO Hands & Voices). There are many questions about audiology, school issues, microtia/atresia, assessment, social development.  Parents must set up a yahoo account to join (free) and then they can elect to see the messages one at a time through their regular email account, a yahoo email account, or received as a daily "digest" of emails, in case there are more than one in a day. The group can be found by clicking here.

How do I make sure everyone, including my child who is deaf/hard of hearing, is included in our family gatherings?

Where can I find a mentor for my child (age birth-6) who is deaf or hard of hearing?

How do I take care of my valuable hearing aids?

A new video about how to take care of your valuable hearing aids is now available. It is called “Daily Use and Care of Hearing Aids” and it has voiceovers and captions.

This video provides information on how to make sure that hearing aids are well-maintained and work properly. The video can be used by hearing aid users, their family members, and service providers such as health care professionals and long-term care providers.

Watch the video at

It was produced by the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD).

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