What is Listening & Spoken Language (LSL)?

The Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) approach is a communication option for infants, toddlers, and young children with hearing loss and their families. This approach has evolved over many years and is preferred by parents who want their child to listen and talk in the primary language of the home.


The LSL approach teaches a child spoken language through listening. You may be thinking: How is this possible for a child who is deaf? First, think about how a baby with normal hearing learns to talk. They learn by listening to the speech and spoken language of their parents, caregivers, and family members. Little brains are built to learn spoken language in this way – its developmental.

Children with hearing loss can learn spoken language the same way when they are identified early, have appropriate hearing devices, and are taught to listen through special LSL techniques. LSL is a developmental approach which follows typical child milestones by introducing skills at the ages and stages when little brains are primed to learn.

“Children learn language best through enjoyable, natural, meaningful one-to-one interactions with people who are special to them – their parents!”

Judith Simser, O.Ont., B.Ed., Dip Ed. Deaf, LSLS Cert. AVT


The main principles of LSL promote:

  • Early detection and diagnosis of hearing loss
  • Use of hearing technology, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, to help children access sounds and spoken language
  • Early intervention services to guide and coach parents and caregivers on how to teach a child with hearing loss to listen and talk

The goal of LSL early interventionists is to show parents how to be their child’s first teacher so families can reach positive listening, speaking, literacy, academic, and social outcomes. In fact, LSL has a long and rich history of doing just that. It all started with the belief that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen, talk, read, and write on the same level as their hearing friends with help from their parents.

You may also hear other phrases or terms, like auditory oral-education, auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) or education (AVed), and oral-deaf education. They are all committed to teaching children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and talk.

In Their Own Words

Julie Lyles Carr, mother of a child with hearing loss, talks about the outcomes she wanted for her daughter and the LSL goals she has achieved.



The LSL approach teaches children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and talk.

Learn more about LSL early intervention 

Early intervention is a collaborative effort between parents or caregivers and LSL professionals to help reach positive outcomes for a child with hearing loss. LSL intervention services are very adaptable and can be delivered in a variety of settings.

If your child is under three years old, early intervention sessions are typically conducted in your home, which is considered a natural environment. LSL services may also take place in hospitals, clinics, center-based programs, schools, or through tele-intervention, which is like video conferencing.

Your LSL early interventionist will coach and guide you to understand and effectively use specific strategies and techniques to teach your child how to listen and talk, and they can be customized to fit your child’s specific needs.

If you’re a family choosing sign language (known as American Sign Language, also called ASL) to communicate with your child, you have the same responsibility. As your child’s first teacher, you’ll need to find qualified professionals to coach and guide you and your family to become fluent signers to ensure your child has access to the sign equivalent of 40 million words during the early learning years. For more information on sign language, go to the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University.


Learn more about making communication decisions and knowing what is best for your child and family: