Memphis: A City That Listens to its Children

The Tennessee Department of Health reports that hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues facing newborns. Each year, nearly 3 of every 1,000 children are born with a hearing loss. This is significant because hearing is a key part of the foundation of a child’s ability to learn language, and to develop social and cognitive skills. Through hearing, a child learns familiar voices, learns to recognize phonetic patterns of words, and to identify verbal tone. If a child is unable to hear these sounds at early stages, a child’s language development, and thus ability to learn, may become jeopardized. 

To combat this possible issue, Memphians have dedicated themselves to dozens of programs, support groups, and schools that cater specifically to hard of hearing children. This is because a child with a hearing impairment has the same opportunity to thrive as much as a child without hearing impairments. The key is that the child must go through a hearing screening early in order to identify possible issues. The earlier an issue is caught, the better this is for the child.  Depending on the severity of hearing loss, certain programs or interventions may be more appropriate for certain children. If hearing issues go unnoticed, a child may have future troubles with learning, communicating, and socializing.

State of Tennessee Programs

The state of Tennessee provides services and interventions for aiding children that are hard of hearing. One of these programs is the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS). TEIS is a voluntary education program for families with children aging 0 to 2 years with disabilities or developmental delays. Their primary goal is to promote a child’s optimal development by encouraging the child’s participation in family and community activities. The Shelby County office for TEIS can be contacted at 901-937-6738. Another state sponsored program is the Children’s Special Services (CSS) program. A child with hearing loss can be eligible for this program depending on the child’s medical and financial situation. For more information on CSS, call 615-741-8530.

Coalition for Hearing Impaired Children

The Coalition for Hearing Impaired Children is a support group through the Memphis City Schools Hearing Intervention Program (HIP) that holds educational meetings throughout the school year for parents of children with hearing loss. Some of the topics have been legislation on hearing aids for children, cochlear implant technology, behavior management at home and school, and summer camps specialized for deaf or hard of hearing children. This coalition can be contacted through Sonia Howley who can be contacted via e-mail at

Deaf Family Literacy Academy

This newly formed organization is dedicated to teaching young deaf and hard hearing children how to communicate using American Sign Language (ALS). This includes teaching parents ALS skills and how to read to their children using ALS. DFLA promotes parent and child together time by reinforcing families learning together and bonding together. DFLA hopes to prepare children to achieve in school through use of ALS. DFLA holds monthly group sessions called “Read With Me, Sign With Me” at the Benjamin L. Hooks Public library. For additional information please contact Sonia Howley at

Hands and Voices

Hands and Voices also has a newly established chapter in Tennessee.  This national support group helps parents understand the choices available for raising and educating their deaf and hard of hearing children.  This group provides easily accessible resources online such as early intervention, education, family perspectives, research, and technology.  Melanie Bacon is the contact for the Tennessee chapter of Hands and voices. She can be contacted at

Memphis Oral School for the Deaf

The Memphis Oral School (MOSD) for the deaf is a school catering from newborns up to the age of 6 years old that are profoundly deaf or hard of hearing. MOSD uses speech and language therapies and audiological services in preschool classes in lieu of sign language. These specialized techniques help children develop the necessary listening and spoken language skills crucial for the communicative world. MOSD is located in Germantown, Tennessee and has been serving the Memphis area for over fifty years. MOSD can be contacted at 901-758-222.