Hearing Program

Children learn speech and language from listening to others. The first few years are particularly critical to development. When a hearing loss exists a child does not get the full benefit of language learning experiences. A hearing loss may be temporary, progressive or permanent but left unnoticed, delays in speech and language learning can occur.

Newborn Hearing Screening

All newborns in hospital and community settings will receive universal hearing screening as part of the Infant Hearing Program. Hearing screening identifies infants who should have more in-depth testing for hearing loss as early as possible. Hearing screenings are provided for infants under the age of 2 months.

Why Do We Screen Babies For Hearing Loss?

Two out of 1,000 babies have hearing loss at birth. Two more develop hearing loss by the age of five. These children may hear some sounds but miss others, making it harder to learn speech and language. Early detection and intervention is critical for a child’s language and literacy development. 

How Is My Baby’s Hearing Screened?

Hearing Screen: Screening a baby’s hearing accurately requires special training and equipment. The screen is reliable, quick and gives results right away. It measures the ear’s or brain’s response to soft sounds played in your baby’s ear and, if needed, may use small stickers placed on your baby’s head. The technology used for the hearing screen is safe and will not hurt your baby.

Risk Factor Screen: Using the same sample collected by the hospital or midwife for the newborn blood spot screening, Newborn Screening Ontario will also complete a risk factor screen to see if your baby is at higher risk for hearing loss.  

A community hearing screening appointment should be scheduled for your baby if:

  • Baby is between 0 – 2 months of age
  • Baby did not receive a hearing screening at birth
  • Hearing screening at birth indicated the baby should be referred to a community newborn hearing screening clinic
  • Baby is a permanent resident of the province of Ontario
  • Baby resides in the regions of Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Guelph-Wellington, or Dufferin

To book a newborn hearing screen, please call ErinoakKids at 1-877-374-6625.

Who can tell me if my child has a hearing impairment?

Babies– 4 to 12 months

If your physician or other professional is concerned that your child may have a permanent hearing loss or has risk factors for this diagnosis, then he may call ErinoakKids Client Services Intake Centre at 1-877-374-6625 to arrange an audiology assessment through the Central West Infant Hearing Program.

Children – One year of age to school entry

Children may be assessed by a local Audiologist on referral from a family physician. Any child identified with a permanent hearing loss may receive ongoing audiology services from the Central West Infant Hearing Program. You can call directly after receiving the diagnosis for your child of a permanent loss.

Do I wait for a hearing assessment before getting help for my child’s speech and language development?

If you feel your baby is having difficulty learning to communicate or interact with others Contact Us. KidsAbility works in partnership with other service providers to support you and your child as you learn about your child’s developmental needs and navigate through systems of support.


What services are available once my child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment?

1. Central West Infant Hearing Program (CWIHP)
ErinoakKids is the lead agency for the Infant Hearing Program in Central West Ontario and partners with KidsAbility to provide Family Support and Communication Services within this program for children:

  • Birth to school entry
  • Residing in Waterloo Region, Guelph, Wellington County
  • Diagnosed with a permanent hearing impairment

Family Support: Our Family Support Workers (FSWs) are Social Workers with Masters Degrees, and they are specially trained to help parents and children when a child has a hearing impairment. Your FSW will help you understand your child’s special situation and provide you with information and resources so that you will be knowledgeable in making decisions about your child. Your FSW will also help you find out whether you qualify for funding assistance for your child’s care.

Communication Services: Communication services are provided at KidsAbility by certified Speech Language Pathologists with specialized training in hearing impairment. Children identified with moderate-to-severe hearing impairment participate in Auditory Verbal Therapy services. Sign language as a primary communication mode is provided through other service providers attached to the CWIHP.

2. KidsAbility

KidsAbility provides Social Work (Family Support) and Speech and Language (Communication) Services for children:

  • Birth until eligible for Senior Kindergarten entry
  • Residing in Region of Waterloo
  • Diagnosed with unilateral, or mild-to-moderate hearing impairment

Family Support: Social Workers with Masters Degrees will help you understand your child’s special situation and provide you with information, resources and support. They will also help you find out whether you qualify for funding assistance for your child’s care.

Communication Services: Communication services are provided by certified Speech Language Pathologists with training in hearing impairment. Children may receive a range of services, often with an auditory-oral component.


To ask any questions or learn more about eligibility and services, contact:


ErinoakKids Client Services Intake Centre for information.
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
905-855-3557 then press '1'
1-877-ERINOAK (1-877-374-6625) then press '1'
fx 905-855-9451

Learn More:

Ontario Infant Hearing Program (IHP) - a province-wide program of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services