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What resources are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?
If you think that you may have hearing loss the first step is to have your hearing assessed.
How can I get my hearing assessed?
To get a hearing assessment for covered by OHIP, you will need a referral from your doctor. OHIP and some publicly funded programs are available for eligible residents of Ontario:
The Canadian Hearing Society has multiple locations in Ontario that offer hearing assessments for everyone over the age of 3. No doctor’s referral is required, and their audiology staff will explain your results right away.
You may also get your hearing assessed by a private registered audiologist without a referral from your doctor. This kind of assessment is not covered by OHIP but may be partially covered by other Ontario programs. Many private health insurance plans offer some coverage of speech therapy services and assessments.
What is an Audiologist?
Audiologists are registered health care professionals who hold Master's and/or Doctoral degrees and are trained in the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing and balance problems. Audiologists are able to prescribe hearing aids, if needed, without requiring a physician’s referral.
What help can I get if I am deaf or hard of hearing?
There are a variety of different types of supports and services available for children, adults, and seniors who are deaf or hard of hearing; as well as their families:
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requires two types of message relay services (MRS) be made available to all Canadians: (1) Teletypewriter (TTY) relay service and (2) Internet protocol (IP) relay service. Message relay services enable people with a hearing or speech disability to make and receive telephone calls via text with the assistance of a relay operator. In an MRS call, the relay operator communicates with the person who has a hearing or speech disability via text and with the other party via voice. In certain areas, text message access to 9-1-1 services is now available for hearing or speech impaired Canadians.
The Ontario Infant Hearing Program (IHP) is specifically designed to serve the needs of children who are Deaf or hard of hearing and their families. This program offers:
- Audiology services:
- Hearing re-assessment
- Language development:
- Services to support you and your child
- Family support
Other services and supports for children can be accessed through:
For people over the age of 16, the Canadian Hearing Society offers free guidance, advocacy, support and counselling to culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing individuals who request assistance to manage everyday life events including completing government forms and developing strategies to cope with hearing loss.
The services are free-of-charge, confidential and provided in an accessible environment using American Sign Language (ASL) or la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).
If you need help improving your English, or American Sign Language (ASL) you can find classes near you by contacting 211 Ontario for free information and referral.
If you are over the age of 55 and live with hearing loss, the Canadian Hearing Society offers free counselling services to help you improve communication with family and friends, stay involved in social activities, and remain safe and independent at home. You can find locations near you and home visits can be arranged as required.
For More Information
- Assistive Devices Program - If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program. From the Ontario Government.
- Services for people who are Deaf or deafblind - From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
- About the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) - Official information about the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). From the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
- Infant Hearing Program Locations - A list of the regional offices for the Infant Hearing Program. From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
- Accessible Phone Services - Relay services enable people with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls. From the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
- Communication Disabilities Access Canada - This page has resources for people who have communication disabilities. It includes videos and information about communication rights, as well as guidelines and vocabulary to discuss communication accommodations with businesses and organizations. From Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC).
August 23, 2023