Hearing Impairment Eligibility

  • Guiding Principles

    As with any eligibility decision, the question of eligibility for special education under the category of Hearing Impairment is an important one. Special education can provide much needed supports and insight for students with disabilities. At the same time, the identification for special education can impact the ways a student experiences school, and the mindset of the learner and those around them.

    Hearing Impairment (HI) refers to a hearing condition, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes hard-of-hearing or deaf. “Hard-of-Hearing” typically means a hearing condition which is functional with or without amplified sound and adversely affects the student’s educational performance. “Deaf” means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification.

    Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and their families are a heterogeneous group in terms of hearing levels, cause, age of onset, use of assistive technology, and language skills. They also reflect the diversity of society and can share membership in other groups related to differences in religion, ethnicity, disability and sexual identity. Most students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing share a common trait in that they can access language fully through the visual channel. (NASP Position Statement, 2012)

    Procedural Guidance

    The Columbia Regional Program (CRP) provides vital assistance and guidance in the eligibility process and providing service for students with a hearing impairment.

    Contact your building Special Education Instructional Coordinator (SPED IC) to complete the CRP referral form

    • An audiogram is required for an eligibility of Hearing Impairment
    • A copy of the audiogram must be sent to CRP with the referral form
    • As with any medical statement required for eligibility, the Student Services office can work with families to help them obtain an audiogram

    Additional evaluation components:

    • A medical statement that confirms the presence of either a sensory-neural hearing loss or a conductive loss that has been determined to be untreatable by a physician
    • Additional assessments to determine impact of disability (educational performance for school-age students and developmental progress for preschool aged children) conducted in collaboration with the CRP Hearing Impaired Specialist

    Use of Interpreters in the Evaluation Process:

    • Whenever possible, to ensure the student’s right to an evaluation in his or her primary language, an evaluator proficient in the student’s preferred language or communication mode should utilized. When that is not possible, a certified sign language interpreter should be provided.
    • The evaluator is responsible for training the interpreter to serve in an ancillary examiner role. The evaluator will need to collaborate with the interpreter to make sure that the visual communication does not unduly influence the responses of the student (i.e. finger-spelling words that may not have a conceptual sign could impact the validity of the results if the assessment is measuring spelling).


    • Invite the CRP hearing specialist as the professional who is knowledgeable and experienced in the evaluation and education of children with Hearing Impairment unless the district has another professional with the requisite knowledge.

    In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Hearing Impairment is listed with the disability code #20



    Link to Columbia Regional Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Program

    Columbia Regional Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Student Referral Form