Summary: The HEAR program is a text messaging service designed to support families of children with hearing loss through expert advice and community connection.


  1. The HEAR program delivers weekly text messages tailored to families of children with suspected or confirmed hearing loss, offering guidance and support directly to their phones.
  2. Messages sent through the program are crafted by a team of clinical experts and families with firsthand experience.
  3. The program aims to empower parents by providing essential information, connecting them with professional and peer support, and helping them navigate the challenges of raising a child with hearing loss.

A new text messaging program announced today by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Bright by Text, and the Helping Adults Talk to Children (HATCH) Lab at Idaho State University was designed to put trusted information into the hands of families with children who have hearing challenges.

The HEAR Program

Bright by Text delivers actionable information from trusted early childhood experts to more than 250,000 parents and caregivers of children, prenatally through age 8, across the United States. Bright by Text’s free text messages, tailored to a child’s exact age and the family’s zip code, are designed to build nurturing caregiver–child relationships, strengthen families, promote a child’s healthy development, and improve school readiness.

The HEAR program is a specialty track within Bright by Text’s larger network, specifically designed for families of children ages birth to 3 years with suspected or confirmed hearing loss. Messages are a mix of information and encouragement, delivered once per week for 6 months. The program is available in English and Spanish.

“The HEAR program is special because these messages were co-created by clinical experts—representing audiology, speech-language pathology, and pediatrics—and families who have ‘been there,'” says Kristina Blaiser, PhD, CCC-SLP, director of the HATCH Lab. “I believe families will find the messages tremendously valuable.”

Hearing Loss in Young Children

“A hearing loss diagnosis can be scary, overwhelming, and isolating for parents of infants and toddlers—particularly if hearing loss doesn’t run in the family,” says Tena McNamara, AuD, CCC-A/SLP, 2024 ASHA President. “But there are ways to mitigate that. Through this new program, we hope to empower parents with information; connect them to professionals and peers for services and support; and help them to feel confident about the future for their child and family.

In the United States, three out of every 1,000 babies are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. More than 90% of deaf children are born to parents who hear, which can make the news of a hearing loss very unexpected. It is critical that all families with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing have access to clear, accurate information that explains the communication options for their child and how they can best support their child’s development, ASHA says.

“We are so proud to partner with ASHA and HATCH Lab on this new program,” says Jodie Fishman, MPH, Chief Content Officer for Bright by Text. “Our goal is to give all children the brightest possible start, and with these messages, we aim to help families feel more secure in their choices and better prepared to raise a child with hearing challenges.”

Reasons for Hearing Loss

Hearing loss in children can result from a variety of causes, including genetics, infections during pregnancy, or atypical ear anatomy. It can range in degree from mild to profound—and can occur in one ear or both.

Nearly all children in the United States receive a newborn hearing screening at birth. However, not all children who do not pass their newborn hearing screening get the needed follow-up testing and/or services. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 4 of these infants are missed due to “loss to follow-up,” when an infant needs a recommended service but does not receive it, or “loss to documentation,” when an infant receives services but the information is not reported to the state. 

Moreover, some children aren’t born with hearing loss but acquire it months or years later—from infections or illnesses, exposure to loud noise, or other causes. Consequently, it is important for families to be attuned to the signs of hearing loss at all ages, even if a child passed their newborn hearing screen.

Further reading: ASHA Urges Families to Identify Signs of Hearing Loss for Children

Left unaddressed in infants and toddlers, hearing loss (even a mild hearing loss) can lead to delays in speech, language, and cognitive development. From birth to age 3, brain and communication development are fostered by exposure to language, including spoken and signed languages. 

If a child has an unknown or unaddressed hearing loss, they may miss out on some to all of that language during a critical period of development. Studies have shown that children identified at birth with hearing loss who begin receiving early intervention services before they are 6 months of age often develop language (spoken or signed) on par with peers who have typical hearing.