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Updated 02 June 2014

What is hearing loss?

People who cannot hear are usually described as being “hearing impaired”. This term includes different types of hearing loss, regardless of the nature, cause and extent.

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People who cannot hear are usually described as being “hearing impaired”. This term includes different types of hearing loss, regardless of the nature, cause and extent.

Let’s take a closer look at the different terms and descriptions:

Deafness: a word describing a person who cannot use his hearing.

Hard of hearing: a person whose hearing is not within normal limits, but who can use the residue of his hearing (especially aided by hearing aids) to hear speech.

Deaf and dumb: a term used in the past. Nowadays it is inappropriate because all people with a hearing loss can be taught to communicate.

It is preferable to use the term "hearing impaired" when referring to a person with a hearing loss.

Hearing loss should be graded according to a person’s degree of hearing loss, for example:

  • mild hearing loss (loss of 15-40dB)
  • moderate hearing loss (41-65dB)
  • severe hearing loss (66-89dB)
  • profound hearing loss (90-110dB)
  • total hearing loss.

A person's hearing loss is graphed on an audiogram that shows both frequency and decibel ranges.

 
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