Hearing impairment is a disability wherein the ability to detect certain frequencies of sound is completely or partially impaired. Deafness can mean the same thing, but is more commonly applied to the case of severe or complete hearing impairment.
When applied to humans, the term hearing impaired is (in my opinion ironically) rejected by the majority of deaf people where the terms deaf and hard-of-hearing are preferred.
I am not sure how many people think of the deaf as disabled when they first hear the term “disabled people”. It’s true, deafness is a form of disability, yet one that is not paid that much attention to. People that suffer from it have their own culture, they have sign language, their problems are almost solved while they’re together. On the other hand, we must also think of all the other situations that we find ourselves into and just how important hearing is to us. Think about the earlier post. Imagine you COULDN’T hear a thing. You couldn’t hear someone calling for you, you couldn’t know if there was a car coming at you. You couldn’t hear an announcement made in a subway station, for instance.
However, dealing with hearing impairment is not easy. To understand how it can be treated, or managed, if not cured, we must first understand what it is. To put it in a nutshell, there are two major types of hearing disabilities:
1. Conductive hearing impairment refers to damage to the conductive mechanism of the inner ear (the three little bones – ossicles, the eardrum, etc) that prevent the sound waves from reaching the cochlea, or the “receiver”.
2. Sensorineural hearing impairment involves a problem with the “receiver” itself, the cochlea or the auditive nerve. Therefore, the problem is neurological.
Treatments for both forms exist, yet as mentioned earlier, the deaf have a culture of their own. And as statistics show, very few of the actually WANT treatment.
Some countries have come up with other methods: adapting the environment to the needs of the hearing impaired. Therefore, all over the UK, you can see signs which tell the deaf to “adjust” a device (resembling the earphones that we all use) to a certain frequency to hear specific information. However, the method can be ineffective as you need to provide the hearing disabled with these devices, and also, some people have lost their hearing entirely, and this will do nothing for them: thus, I think that medical treatment should be strongly encouraged.