Glossary of Common Terms

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Snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.
Source: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Cochlear Implants

Medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve, allowing some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret sounds and speech.
Source: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Conductive Hearing Loss

A form of deafness that results from a blockage of the ear canal or dysfunction of the ossicles or eardrum, usually through the buildup of fluid. Conductive hearing loss does not affect the auditory nerve and can usually be treated with antibiotics or ventilation tubes. Conductive hearing loss may be temporary or permanent.
Source: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


The partial or extreme loss of or inability for a person to receive information through hearing/ listening without the assistance of hearing technology. Any degree of deafness, from mild to profound, has the potential to impact a child’s language, communication, and academic development without proper intervention.
Source: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Developmental Delay

Developmental delay is the term frequently used to identify children with delay in meeting developmental milestones in one or more streams of development. There is no consensus on the specific definition. Developmental delay is best viewed generically as a chief complaint rather than a diagnosis. A child suspected to have delays should always be assessed in each of the major streams of development: expressive and receptive language, including social communication; visual problem solving (nonverbal cognition); motor development; neurobehavioral development; and social-emotional development.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Early Childhood Educator

Early childhood educators plan, organize, and lead activities to help children develop intellectually, physically, and emotionally. They work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children in a variety of settings.
Source: Alberta Learning Information Service

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI)

The process of identifying infants at birth, or shortly thereafter, who have a hearing loss. It is the provision of appropriate intervention services to maximize the infant's linguistic and communicative competence.
Source: Audiology Online

Early Intervention

A specialized program to help a child immediately after detection. Time is of the essence because a child’s brain is programmed to learn language during the first 6 years of life – the first 3 years being the most critical. After this period, it is very difficult to acquire language and speech skills. Early intervention involves fitting children with hearing aids, providing counseling and support for parents, and teaching parents how to stimulate speech and language in their child.
Source: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Early Interventionist

A term that can be applied to many professionals who specialize in early intervention services for children with hearing loss. They are typically service providers with a specialty in listening and spoken language, such as speech-language pathologists, educators of the deaf, pediatric audiologists, or early childhood teachers or interventionists.
Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


An earmold is a piece of plastic or other soft material molded to precisely fit in the ear and to deliver the sound from a hearing aid.
Source: North Carolina Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc.