Glossary of Common Terms

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Teacher of the Deaf (Educator of the Deaf)

A teacher certified to teach children in early childhood education, elementary education, or a secondary content area such as science or history, who has additional specialized training to teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The specific title of this teacher varies from state to state.
Source: Educational Enhancement for the Field of Deaf Education


Early intervention services provided to families of children with hearing loss using internet-based video conferencing to model and coach parents in language facilitation techniques. Families who may have difficulty finding a qualified professional near where they live may find tele-intervention to be an excellent option.
Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Tympanic Membrane

Also called the eardrum, the tympanic membrane separates the outer ear from the middle ear. When sound waves reach the tympanic membrane they cause it to vibrate. The vibrations are then transferred to the tiny bones in the middle ear. The middle ear bones then transfer the vibrating signals to the inner ear. The tympanic membrane is made up of a thin connective tissue membrane covered by skin on the outside and mucosa on the internal surface.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine


A test to measure the ear's response to both sound and pressure. The test can reveal if there is fluid in the middle ear, an ear infection (otitis media), a tear (perforation) in the eardrum, or a problem with the Eustachian tube (tube that links the upper part of the throat and nose with the middle ear).
Source: Healthline

Tympanostomy Tubes

Also called ear tubes, ventilation tubes, or pressure equalization tubes, tympanostomy tubes are tiny cylinders, usually made of plastic or metal, that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. An ear tube creates an airway that ventilates the middle ear and prevents the accumulation of fluids behind the eardrum. They are often recommended for children who have persistent fluid buildup behind the eardrum, especially if the condition causes hearing loss and affects speech development. Your child's doctor may also recommend ear tubes if your child gets frequent ear infections. Most ear tubes fall out within six to 12 months, and the holes heal shut on their own. Some tubes need to be removed, and some holes may need to be closed surgically.
Source: Mayo Clinic

Unilateral Hearing Loss

A loss of hearing in only one ear ranging from mild to profound. A unilateral hearing loss can impact a child's ability to understand where sounds are coming from, speech in noisy situations or hear you from a distance. These challenges have implications for language acquisition and academic achievement.
Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS)

A strategy for screening all babies shortly after birth to detect permanent congenital hearing loss.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)

A method for performing pure tone audiometry with children from 6 months to 3 years of age. This method is based on the principle that when a child hears a sound, he or she will look to see what that sound was.
Source: Andrew P. McGrath, AuD