derstanding that unilateral hearing loss is of no consequence and that this problem can be disregarded. Consequently, children with unilateral hearing loss often receive no direct intervention, such as amplification or therapeutic services. However, research now has shown that children with unilateral hearing loss are disadvantaged. In particular, children with unilateral hearing loss have difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments and are deficient relative to their peers in localization of a sound source (Bess, Tharpe, and Gibler, 1986). Another study found that 32 percent of children in a cohort with unilateral hearing loss failed a grade in school and were significantly delayed in language compared with a matched group of children with normal hearing (Klee and Davis-Dansky, 1986).
Because speech and language develop rapidly during the early years in children’s lives (up to age 5), the importance of early intervention, including suitable amplification or cochlear implantation, can be seen. It is generally agreed that such intervention procedures are most effective when initiated as early as possible after the identification of the hearing loss (Silverman, 1983). According to Ling (1979), the motor skills required for speech can be learned at any time, but they are most likely to be transferred to the spontaneous level if children have not developed firmly established error patterns. Intervention techniques should be initiated at an early stage and should mirror the pattern of development in children with normal hearing (Ling, 1979).
Recent data from the Gallaudet Research Institute’s annual survey indicate that approximately 51.2 percent of children and youth with hearing loss are white, 15.4 percent black, 24.5 percent Hispanic, 4.3 percent Asian-Pacific Islander, and 0.8 percent American Indian, with the rest falling under the “other” or multiethnic categories (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2002). About 54 percent are male and 46 percent are female. This survey represents a database of roughly 60 percent of children in the United States who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and is based on reports from educational programs in which these children are enrolled (Karchmer and Mitchell, 2003). Current racial/ethnic proportions now mirror those found in the United States (Holden-Pitt and Diaz, 1998).
The following is a condensation of information presented by Karchmer and Mitchell (2003). In terms of educational placement, 31.7 percent are in regular education settings, 12.6 percent are in resource rooms in these