This page has been developed with the support from a grant from the
Colorado Commission for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

What is ‘Deaf Plus’?

"Deaf/hh Plus is meant to be a positive term, not in any way negative or insensitive to the child who has medical issues along with hearing loss. In fact, I see it as an “A+” or “B+,” meaning the child carries additional positive qualities. But it is a gift that needs to be carefully unwrapped. And it may not appear to be a gift when you first receive it. Time helps you appreciate, understand and unfold the possibilities. And the “Plus” most often means the child and family has added responsibilities and requires additional expertise."

– Candace Lindow-Davies, MN Hands & Voices

index pic

Laurie Pachl and
her Daughter Savannah
" gift is my daughter Savannah, just as she is, not measured by how many chromosomes she has."

Who are Children who are
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus?

  • Estimated to be between 30 to 60% of dhh population
  • Additional challenges may include:
    • Intellectual/cognitive disabilities
    • Emotional and behavioral disabilities
    • Learning disabilities
    • ADD/ADHD
    • Down Syndrome
    • Vision loss or blindness
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Autism
    • Orthopedic involvement
    • Other physical disabilities
    • Other

The Heart of the Issue

  • The combined effect of hearing loss and a disability presents a unique and complex challenge to professionals and parents. 
  • A review of the literature yields little specific information on successful educational strategies and programs for such children.
  • The most important factor in student success is early identification and early placement in an appropriate program.
  • Are social-emotional needs addressed? Are the strategies used effective?

What Materials and Strategies are used with Children who are Deaf/HH Plus?

  • Appropriate assessments by someone who is specially trained in dhh and disabilities
  • Experts of each disability involved to assess impact
  • A high level of structure
  • Specific, clearly stated objectives
  • A focus on the individual needs of each child
  • Instruction that is step-by-step in nature
  • Practical experiences in natural environments
  • Consistent routines
  • Age-appropriate materials are important
  • A focus on motivating the child
  • Provision of successful experiences
  • An emphasis on the student's skills in given situations, not on his or her limitations
  • Over-learning (going over a skill after it seems to be mastered) is good and much repetition may be necessary
  • Planning for the transfer of instruction to real life situations

Some of the content of this page comes from a presentation done at the 2012 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference, “I Push When I Want to Say “Hello”: The Social/Emotional Needs of the Child who is ‘Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus’” by Candace Lindow-Davies and Patti Silva. (for specific citations/references of materials used in presentation, contact

Articles and resources of interest:

Communication Considerations for Deaf Plus:

This article covers four basic questions and is located on the H&V site: 
1. What is ‘Deaf Plus’?
2. What issues are at the forefront of Deaf Plus?
3. What should every parent or professional know about Deaf Plus?
4. Where else can I find information about Deaf Plus?

Plus Means Positiveby Chris Moody

Supporting the Whole ChildBy Dinah Beams

High ExpectationsBy Candace Lindow-Davies

Learning CurveBy Laurie Pachl

New Drivers, New WorriesBy Candace Lindow-Davies

Reflecting on Early InterventionBy Kim Shauer

Back to School…Stress and Hope - By Tamra Logan

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome: Where do we fit in?by Andrea Tyler
This article is on the H&V web site.

Additional articles are archived on the Hands & Voices website.


Many of these articles were published in the Hands & Voices Communicator. The Communicator welcomes parents and professionals to submit articles on any aspect of D/HH Plus and help us unwrap the gift. Please contact column editor Candace Lindow-Davies at or Sara Kennedy at