Making the LSL Story Mainstream

By Hearing First Team October 27, 2015

LSL Day by Day | listening and spoken language, powering potential, LSL outcomes, LSL story, LSL journey, share LSL, mainstream

When presented with complete information about all of their communication options, more than 90% of parents choose a spoken language outcome for their child. Yet LSL claims roughly 1% share of voice online. Learn how you can share your story — and redefine what’s possible in the lives of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“What do you do?”

It’s a common question often asked in a waiting room or on a flight.

If you are a professional, perhaps you have answered that you guide and coach parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing to teach their baby to listen and talk.

If you are parent to a child with hearing loss you may mention in book club or at the bake sale that you are teaching your little one to listen and talk. 

The common response is often a quizzical look and the inevitable, “Really? How do you do that?” — asked with a wonder and curiosity.

The truth is that the general public is largely surprised to learn that infants who are identified just after birth, fit with hearing technology, and enrolled in early intervention can meet developmental milestones and learn to read on par with their hearing friends.

As a LSL family or professional partnering on the LSL journey, listening and spoken language (LSL) may now seem routine. But, the facts around what’s possible today for babies who are deaf or hard of hearing are far from common knowledge.

Despite ongoing industry efforts, the message of listening and spoken language has barely registered above a whisper in the public sphere. LSL’s share of voice in social media is a miniscule 0.143% (analysis as of early 2015). This is a critically small number compared to the thousands of babies diagnosed every year and the multitude of families who may be seeking information and support.

In truth, 1-3 of every 1000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss. By school entry, 10 per 1000 are diagnosed due to acquired loss. Most are born to hearing parents with no existing understanding of raising a child with hearing loss.

In large parts of the U.S., more than 90% of parents choose a spoken language outcome for their child when they are presented with complete information about all of the communication options.

But, they have to know about LSL to choose LSL. Many families across America are never presented with that choice. 

As families who live LSL every day and as professionals who guide them, you can help promote listening and spoken language. You may not always see how heroic your efforts truly are — but you are on the front lines, redefining what’s possible for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

These are three ways you can raise public awareness around what’s possible for children who are deaf and hard of hearing:

  1. Share your personal LSL story.
    Your LSL journey can inspire and encourage others. You don’t need a big platform to share your story. You may find an opportunity in line at the grocery store to talk about your experience. As a parent, you may meet someone who’s child is newly diagnosed — or just a few months behind you on this journey. Sharing with community groups, health professionals, student groups, or your own circle of medical caregivers can give your story an even broader reach.
    One inspired conversation about listening and spoken language may plant a seed that leads to a LSL opportunity for a child born deaf or hard of hearing.
  2. Share LSL on your social media channels.
    In social spaces, the LSL message can spread exponentially. The old tagline is true: “You tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on.” What starts as a LSL share among your circle of friends can expand the message through “likes,” “shares,” “retweets,” and “favorites.”
    Your next tweet or post may be the LSL message that reaches a family when they need it most and changes everything for their child. 
  3. Share Hearing First content, messages, and posts.
    Hearing First connects and supports parents and professionals working in partnership to teach babies to listen and talk. You’ll find LSL messages on Hearing First sites and social channels that you can download and share, retweet, or repost with your own message. We’re making it easier than ever to share listening and spoken language with those in your world. 
    Make the LSL message a part of your ongoing social sharing. For families who may not have access to the information they need, your post could directly impact the outcomes of an infant they know.

Follow Hearing First and stay connected as we work together to advance LSL and power LSL possibilities for generations of infants born deaf or hard of hearing. 

LSL Day by Day | listening and spoken language, powering potential, LSL outcomes, LSL story, LSL journey, share LSL, mainstream

About the Author

Hearing First Team At Hearing First, we want all children to benefit from the availability of newborn hearing screening, the advances in technology, and the early learning services in their communities. We want all children to have the opportunity to take advantage of access to sound – a critical building block for future success.