OBJECTIVE : Within the educational sector of low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), formal and informal early childhood development (ECD) centers are often the first point of contact for majority of children. Since early hearing detection services are mostly absent in LMICs, these ECD centers may serve as the first point of access to screenings for these children. ECD practitioner awareness regarding hearing and hearing loss is essential for the successful implementation of hearing screening programs. This study thus investigated the current knowledge and attitudes of ECD practitioners towards childhood hearing loss in a community representative of typical LMIC contexts. METHOD : Purposive sampling was used to identify ECD centers and participants across a community. Thereafter, a cross-sectional quantitative survey (23 items) was adminstered amongst 82 ECD practitioners. RESULTS : More than 80% of ECD practitioners correctly identified genetics and ear infections as etiological factors of hearing loss. Gaps in knowledge regarding identification techniques for children 3–6 years of age and the impact of hearing loss in the classroom were evident. ECD personnel's duration of experience had a significant effect on overall knowledge and attitude (p < .05; F (1,53) = 8.68). ECD personnel displayed a positive attitude towards children receiving a hearing test (88.3%) and almost all participants indicated the need for more information regarding hearing loss (93.5%).
CONCLUSIONS : This study demonstrated a general readiness amongst ECD practitioners for the implementation of ECD hearing screening programs in LMICs, however additional information and guidelines are needed to improve practitioner knowledge and attitudes.