By Carol Flexer and Elizabeth B Cole This article is a part of the January/February 2020, Volume 32, Number 1, Audiology Today issue. Catherine Palmer, in her General Assembly Speech at the Academy’s 2019 annual conference, inspired us by emphasizing that audiologists have an incredibly important and expanded role in the health and well-being of the people we serve. “Audiologists start a chain of events for a child that will promote reading, education, and employment,” she said in her address. That chain of events starts with a child learning to listen and learning spoken language. This article will address the audiologist’s role in those events from a very practical perspective. Hearing and Listening There is a distinction between hearing and listening. Hearing is the acoustic access of auditory information to the brain. Listening, however, is when the individual attends to acoustic events with intentionality. Hearing (auditory information) must be made available to the brain before listening can be learned and understanding developed. That is, parents and practitioners can focus on developing the child’s listening skills and strategies only after the pediatric audiologist channels acoustic information to the brain by appropriately fitting and programming technologies for maximum audibility—not before. The Purpose of Listening The purpose of listening is to acquire spoken language and knowledge of the world by developing and integrating auditory neural pathways throughout the brain. Better quality and quantity of auditory information means that stronger neural connections are developed in the brain (Kral et al, 2016). Attaining a Listening and Talking Outcome What does it take for a child with hearing loss to learn to listen, talk, and read, if those are the family’s desired outcomes? Protection against language and literacy delays arises from managing the following malleable factors (Ching et al, 2018; McCreery et al, 2015): Fitting hearing aids early and properly to maximize audibility of auditory information to the brain. Consistently using hearing aids/cochlear implant(s) (10 to 12 hours per day—“eyes open, technology on”). Providing a rich linguistic environment around the child—parent talk can be increased and improved by coaching, beginning in infancy. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!