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Deafness is when someone cannot hear or cannot hear well. There were many famous people who were deaf, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Deafness is also known as 'hearing loss'.

Definition[change | change source]

A person is considered to be deaf if they cannot hear the same range of sounds as a person with normal hearing ability. People that cannot hear any sounds are also deaf. People who are partially deaf may hear some sounds and may hear words.

People who cannot hear and understand words well are hard of hearing.

Things that help deaf people[change | change source]

  • Hearing aid, which helps a deaf person to hear sounds.
  • Teletypewriter (TTY), that allows a deaf person to communicate with people.
  • Sign language, which allows a deaf person to have a conversation with someone else.
  • Hearing dog is a dog that has been trained to hear sounds and help a deaf person.

Causes[change | change source]

There are different causes of deafness:

  • Age: Many people will lose their hearing as they get older.
  • Exposure to noise: Being in a noisy environment for a long time may damage ears and cause hearing loss.
  • Genetic conditions: There can be a family history of deafness. If the mother and/or father are deaf, their child will have a strong chance of being deaf.
  • Diseases: Certain diseases may cause deafness.
  • Drugs: Certain drugs may affect hearing.
  • Chemicals: Certain chemicals can damage the ear.

Categories of deafness[change | change source]

Generally, there are two views of deafness:

  • Medical view: the effects of deafness and measuring type and how much of loss (as seen in categories below).
  • Cultural view: includes people who use sign language to communicate and are part of group of people who share life experiences. Referring to people of the cultural group the phrase "Deaf people" is used and deaf is capitalized (as shown previously). A person using the medical view would write "people who are deaf".

These categories may overlap.

  • Unilateral – loss of hearing in one ear only
  • Pre-lingual – deafness at birth or deafness that started before language is learned
  • Peri-lingual – deafness that started while learning a first language
  • Post-lingual – deafness that started after a language has been learned
  • Partial – limited hearing loss
  • Progressive – hearing loss that becomes worse as time passes
  • Profound – complete or near-complete hearing loss
  • Tone deaf – not able to hear differences in relative pitch (in music)
  • Tinnitus – hearing damage that causes high pitched ringing. This makes it so that the person cannot hear other sounds
  • Conductive – hearing loss caused by sound being blocked from going into ears
  • Sensorineural – hearing loss caused by hair cells in ears being damaged

Other websites[change | change source]

  • National Hearing Care Find an audiologist in Australia for more information on deafness and hearing loss.
  • Bay Audiology Find an audiologist in New Zealand for more information on deafness and hearing loss.