As the parent of a child with a hearing loss, you will be encouraged to learn all you can about your child's hearing. Accurate and reliable information will help you to make informed decisions about raising your deaf child. You will be provided with a variety of information resources and you may search for more information on the Internet.
How do you tell if a book or website is any good?
Read a wide range of sources on your topic
There has been a concerted attempt over the last few years to produce unbiased information for families raising a deaf child. Don't rely on one source of information. It s a good idea to read a number of sources about the topic you are interested in. This will help you judge whether the information is objective and detect any bias.
Choose sources of information you can trust
The questions below are a starting point for identifying information sources that are reliable and appropriate for your needs. These questions can be asked about the more traditional sources of information such as books, journals, magazines and television, as well as the Internet.
- Who published the information?
Information provided by government departments, hospitals, universities and major journals generally provide reliable and up-to-date information. Specialist sites and sites of major organisations are also likely to be reliable.
- How up to date is the information?
Find the most recent information available. Some subject areas, such as genetics and cochlear implants, need a high level of up-to-date information. Technology, policies and services can change so you need to be more cautious with older material. Check the publication date of books, magazines and journals. Good websites will include the date each page was reviewed.
- What is the purpose of the information?
The purpose of the information may be to inform, persuade, sell a product or service or to entertain. Be wary of information that focuses on the advantages or disadvantages of one particular treatment choice, product or service without reference to other possible choices. Important information that has been ignored or omitted may indicate bias. Good sources, particularly Internet sites, should clearly state the commercial and non-commercial sponsors that have contributed funding, services or material for the resource.
- Who is the intended audience?
There is an enormous amount of reputable information written for consumers today. For many parents, this will be enough information for their needs. As parents learn more about hearing loss, some turn to more professional publications for their information. They want access to the same information as the professionals guiding and supporting them. Peer-reviewed journals are a reliable source of quality information although they are not written in parent-friendly language and interpreting the information can be difficult. Do not automatically accept information simply because it is published in a scholarly journal.
Information from other parents and Deaf adults
Parents are usually encouraged to contact other parents raising a deaf child and Deaf adults. They can be a rich source of information and provide an interesting and varied perspective on living with a deaf child. As with all other sources of information, do not rely on this information alone. Compare their information with other sources and seek the advice of professionals looking after your child.
Remember that information provided to families is designed to better educate you and is not a substitute for independent professional advice.
- Quality criteria for consumer health information - DISCERN instrument
DISCERN is an instrument, or tool, which has been designed to help users of consumer health information judge the quality of written information about treatment choices.