Why Help?

About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. (1) More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. (1)

Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. (1)

Men are more likely than women to report having hearing loss. (2)

One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations. (3)

About 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. (4)

The NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.(5)

Roughly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population, or about 25 million Americans, has experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes in the past year. (6)

Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them. (7)

As of December 2012, approximately 324,200 cochlear implants have been implanted worldwide. In the United States, roughly 58,000 devices have been implanted in adults and 38,000 in children.(8)

Five out of 6 children experience ear infection (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years old.(9)

Severe to profound hearing loss is expected to cost society $297,000 over the lifetime of an individual. (10)

Most of these losses (67%) are due to reduced work productivity, although the use of special education resources among children contributes an additional 21%. Life time costs for those with prelingual onset exceed $1 million. (11)

Genes are responsible for hearing loss among 50% to 60% of children with hearing loss. About 20% of babies with genetic hearing loss have a “syndrome” (for example, Down syndrome or Usher syndrome). (12)

Infections during pregnancy in the mother, other environmental causes, and complications after birth are responsible for hearing loss among almost 30% of babies with hearing loss. (13)

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among children. (14)

14% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) of some type. About 3% to 5% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL. A 2005 HealthStyles survey by CDC found that only 14% of female respondents had heard of CMV. About one in every four children with hearing loss also is born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds). (15)

Nearly one-quarter of children with hearing loss has one or more other developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or vision loss. (16)

Two million Americans are profoundly deaf (7.5 per 1,000). During the 2001–02 school year, 42,361 students were identified as having a hearing loss. (17)

  • Approximately 50% rely on communication methods other than spoken English.
  • Approximately 40% are identified as having additional conditions.
  • 92.6% of their mothers are hearing.
  • 86.4% of their fathers are hearing.
  • 12.7% of them have a deaf or hard-of-hearing sibling.
  • 71.7% of their family members do not sign regularly.
  • The racial/ethnic backgrounds of these children nationwide are:
    • 52.6% white
    • 15.9% black/African American
    • 22.8% Hispanic/Latino
    • 0.8% American Indian
    • 4.2% Asian/Pacific Islander
    • 1.7% other
    • 2.0% multi-ethnic background

Deaf children are more vulnerable to neglect, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse than children in the general population. (18)

50% of deaf girls have been sexually abused as compared to 25% of hearing girls. (19)

54% of Deaf boys have been sexually abused as compared to 10% of hearing boys. (20)

Individuals with disabilities are over four times as likely to be victims of crime as the nondisabled population. (21)

Children with communication disorders are more likely to be physically and sexually abused than children without these disorders. (22)

Maltreatment of children with disabilities is 1.5–to–10 times higher than of children without disabilities (23)

Immediate family members perpetrate the majority of neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. Extra-familial perpetrators account for the majority of sexual abuse. (24)

Sexual abuse incidents are almost four times as common in institutional settings as in the community. (25)


(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Identifying infants with hearing loss - United States, 1999-2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 59(8): 220-223. Vohr B. Overview: infants and children with hearing loss—part I. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9:62–64.

(2) Mitchell RE, Karchmer MA. Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Sign Language Studies. 2004;4(2):138-163.

(3) Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(260). 2014.

(4) Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. [Letter] Arch Intern Med. 2011 Nov 14; 171(20): 1851-1852.

(5) Based on calculations performed by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff: (1) using data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); (2) applying the definition of disabling hearing loss used by the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Expert Hearing Loss Team (hearing loss of 35 decibels or more in the better ear, the level at which adults could generally benefit from hearing aids).

(6) Hoffman HJ, Ko C-W, Themann CL, Dillon CF, Franks JR. Reducing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in adults to achieve U.S. Healthy People 2010 goals. Abstract. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Jun (Suppls);163(11): S122.

(7) Based on calculations performed by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff: (1) tinnitus prevalence was obtained from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); (2) the estimated number of American adults reporting tinnitus was calculated by multiplying the prevalence of tinnitus by the 2013 U.S. Census population estimate for the number of adults (18+ years of age).

(8) Based on calculations by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff using data collected by (1) the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) annually for number of persons who have ever used a hearing aid [numerator], and (2) periodic NHANES hearing exams for representative samples of the U.S. adult and older adult population [denominator]; these statistics are also used for tracking Healthy People 2010 and 2020 objectives. S

(9) Estimates based on manufacturers’ voluntary reports of registered devices to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, December 2012.

(10) Teele DW, Klein JO, Rosner B. Epidemiology of otitis media during the first seven years of life in children in greater Boston: a prospective, cohort study. J Infect Dis. 1989 Jul;160(1):83-94.

(11) International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care (2000), 16: 1120-1135 Cambridge University Press:

(12) New England Journal of Medicine: Newborn Hearing Screening — A Silent Revolution

(13) New England Journal of Medicine: Newborn Hearing Screening — A Silent Revolution

(14) US National Library of Medicine: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection as a cause of permanent bilateral hearing loss: a quantitative assessment.

(15) US National Library of Medicine: Relative and attributable risks for moderate to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing impairment associated with lower birth weight in children 3 to 10 years old.

(16) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Prevalence of Four Developmental Disabilities Among Children Aged 8 Years --- Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program, 1996 and 2000

(17) Source: Gallaudet Research Institute. (January, 2003). Regional and National Summary Report of Data from the 2001-2002 Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children & Youth. Washington, DC: GRI, Gallaudet University.

(18) Sullivan, Vernon, & Scanlan, 1987

(19) Sullivan et al., 1987)

(20) Sullivan et al., 1987

(21) Sobsey, 1996

(22) Sullivan & Knutson, 1998

(23) Baladerian, 1991; Sosey & Doe, 1991; Sobsey & Vamhagen, 1989; Sullivan & Knutson, 2000

(24) Sullivan & Knutson, 2000

(25) Blatt & Brown, 1986

Communication & Education

Entry rates into college for students with hearing loss are close in parity with other students, the drop out rate is 71% vs. 41% for other students, and this disparity is thought to be due largely to inadequate socialization. (1)

Even among intellectually gifted deaf and hard of hearing people, a longitudinal study found only 43% graduated from a four-year college and 30% were unemployed. (2)

Estimates of the economic burden (in 1990 dollars) of childhood hearing loss (which reportedly have been used in actual settlements) suggest a lifetime loss of income in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, along with significant additional special living and medical expenses. (3)


(1) 8 English, K. (1997). Self Advocacy For Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Austin, Texas. PRO-ED, Inc., page 4.

(2) 9 Vernon, M. and LaFalce-Landers, E. (1993). A Longitudinal Study of Intellectually Gifted Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, American Annals of the Deaf, 138(5) : 427-34.

(3) 10 Northern, J. and Downs, M (1991). Hearing in Children. Fourth Edition. Baltimore, MD. Williams & Wilkins, pages 28-29.

Transition Into Adulthood

A CDC study that followed school-aged children identified with hearing loss into young adulthood (21 through 25 years of age) found that: About 40% of young adults with hearing loss identified during childhood reported experiencing at least one limitation in daily functioning. (1)

About 70% of young adults with hearing loss without other related conditions (such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or vision loss) were employed. (2)

Young adults with hearing loss without other related conditions (such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, vision loss, and epilepsy) were less likely than young adults with other related conditions to take part in risky behaviors (such as smoking and abusing alcohol). (3)


(1) US National Library of Medicine: Activity limitations among young adults with developmental disabilities: a population-based follow-up study

(2) US National Library of Medicine: A multi-dimensional approach to the transition of children with developmental disabilities into young adulthood: the acquisition of adult social roles

(3) US National Library of Medicine: Healthy behaviors and lifestyles in young adults with a history of developmental disabilities

Economic Cost

During the 1999 - 2000 school year, the total cost in the United States for special education programs for children who were deaf or hard of hearing was $652 million, or $11,006 per child. (1)

The lifetime educational cost (year 2007 value) of hearing loss (more than 40 dB permanent loss without other disabilities) has been estimated at $115,600 per child. (2)

It is expected that the lifetime costs for all people with hearing loss who were born in 2000 will total $2.1 billion (in 2003 dollars). (3)

Direct medical costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and inpatient hospital stays, will make up 6% of these costs.

Direct non-medical expenses, such as home modifications and special education, will make up 30% of these costs.

Indirect costs, which include the value of lost wages when a person cannot work or is limited in the amount or type of work he or she can do, will make up 63% of the costs.

Note: These estimates do not include other expenses, such as hospital outpatient visits, sign language interpreters, and family out-of-pocket expenses. The actual economic costs of hearing loss, therefore, will be even higher than what is reported here.


(1) Institute of Education Services: Total Expenditures for Students with Disabilities, 1999-2000: Spending Variation by Disability. Report. Special Education Expenditure Project (SEEP)

(1) Grosse SD. Education cost savings from early detection of hearing loss: New findings. Volta Voices 2007;14(6):38-40.

(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Economic Costs Associated with Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss, and Vision Impairment --- United States, 2003

Deaf and The Church

Out of the approximately 6 million Deaf people in North America, only 2 to 4 percent are Christians. (1)

Less than 2% of the Deaf around the world have an active relationship with Jesus.(2)

The Deaf Community is the 3rd (sometimes considered 4th) largest unreached people group with the Gospel of Christ. (3)

Less than 300 individuals are serving in full time deaf ministry worldwide.


(1) Larry Vollmar, Pastor of Deaf Ministry: The Grove Community Church in Riverside, CA

(2) Deaf Missions: Published in Missions Frontiers Magazine

(3) This information was provided by The International Mission Board - Global Research, April 2016, name of publication, www.peoplegroups.org.