Hearing Impairment

A person doesn't have to be heard to be successful.

What is a Hearing Impairment?

Hearing Impairment occurs when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear. Hearing loss is either present at birth (Congenital Hearing) or it happens over time (Acquired Hearing) There are many different kinds of hearing impairments, which include Conductive Hearing Loss, which results from a problem with the outer ear and can be corrected with surgery or medicine. There is also Sensorineural, a permanent type of hearing loss which results from damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. Mixed Hearing Loss occurs when someone has both Sensorineural and Conductive hearing loss at the same time. Central Hearing Loss is when the cochlea (inner ear) is functioning properly, but the brain is not functioning correctly. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) have difficulty hearing in a loud environment.

Characteristics of Hearing Impairment

There are many signs that can show when a person has a hearing loss of some kind, such as not responding consistently to sounds or to their own name, is delayed in developing speech, turns up the volume loud on electronic devices such as TV, iPods, etc. To professionally diagnose hearing loss or hearing impairment, the person in question should schedule an appointment with an audiologist, who specializes in treating those with hearing impairments.

Impacts of Hearing Impairment on Development

There are three major ways that hearing loss can affect children:

1) It can cause delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language).
  • Children with hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings.
  • Children with hearing loss comprehend and produce shorter and simpler sentences than children with normal hearing.
2) The language deficit can cause learning problems that can result in poor academic achievement.
  • Children with mild to moderate hearing losses achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing, unless special tutoring occurs.
  • Gap between students with hearing loss and other students widens over time.
3) Communication difficulties often lead to social isolation and poor self-esteem.
  • Social problems tend to be more frequent in children with a mild or moderate hearing loss compared to those with sever or complete hearing loss.

Cochlear Implant-To Hear or Not to Hear?

The cochlear implant has become a controversial issue with two very distinct sides. One side supports the use of implants to "repair" deafness in children, believing "normalization" is important to the success for deaf children. The other side believes the children's natural condition should be emphasized, opposing cochlear implants because they feel that deafness should be looked at as part of their identity and not a disability. A resolution between the two sides has not yet occurred.