Signs of a Hearing Loss or Deafness
• Respond inappropriately to questions?
• Not reply when you call him/her?
• Watch others to imitate what they are doing?
• Have articulation problems or speech/language delays?
• Have problems academically?
• Complain of earaches, ear pain or head noises?
• Have difficulty understanding what people are saying?
• Seem to speak differently from other children his or her age? Loss in Children
Hearing is one of our five senses. Hearing gives us access to sounds in the world around us—people’s voices, their words, a car horn blown in warning or as hello!
When a child has a hearing loss, it is cause for immediate attention. That’s because language and communication skills develop most rapidly in childhood, especially before the age of 3. When hearing loss goes undetected, children are delayed in developing these skills.
Types of Hearing Loss
Before we describe the types of hearing loss a person may have, it’s useful to know that sound is measured by:
• Its loudness or intensity (measured in units called decibels, dB); and
• Its frequency or pitch (measured in units called hertz, Hz).
Hearing loss is generally described as slight, mild, moderate, severe, or profound, depending upon how well a person can hear the intensities or frequencies most strongly associated with speech. Impairments in hearing can occur in either or both areas, and may exist in only one ear or in both ears. Generally, only children whose hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels (dB) are considered deaf.
There are four types of hearing loss:
• Conductive hearing losses are caused by diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear (the pathways for sound to reach the inner ear). Conductive hearing losses usually affect all frequencies of hearing evenly and do not result in severe losses. A person with a conductive hearing loss usually is able to use a hearing aid well or can be helped medically or surgically.
• Sensorineural hearing losses result from damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the inner ear or the nerves that supply it. These hearing losses can range from mild to profound. They often affect the person’s ability to hear certain frequencies more than others. Thus, even with amplification to increase the sound level, a person with a sensorineural hearing loss may perceive distorted sounds, sometimes making the successful use of a hearing aid impossible.
• A mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss and means that a problem occurs in both the outer or middle and the inner ear.
• A central hearing loss results from damage or impairment to the nerves or nuclei of the central nervous system, either in the pathways to the brain or in the brain itself. How Common is Hearing Loss?
Each year in the United States, more than 12,000 babies are born with a hearing loss; often, the cause is unknown (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Profound deafness occurs in 4-11 per 10,000 children; in at least 50% of these cases, the cause is genetic (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, n.d.). Through the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program, many states now mandate that all newborns be screened for hearing loss within hours of birth (National Center for Hearing Assessment & Management, n.d.).
Causes of Hearing Loss and Deafness
Hearing loss and deafness can be either:
• Acquired, meaning that the loss occurred after birth, due to illness or injury; or
• Congenital, meaning that the hearing loss or deafness was present at birth.
The most common cause of acquired hearing loss is exposure to noise (Merck Manual’s Online Medical Library, 2007).
Other causes can include:
• Build up of fluid behind the eardrum;
• Ear infections (known as otitis media);
• Childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles, or chicken pox; and
• Head trauma.
Congenital causes of hearing loss and deafness include:
• A family history of hearing loss or deafness;
• Infections during pregnancy (such as rubella);
• Complications during pregnancy (such as the Rh factor, maternal diabetes, or toxicity).
A child’s hearing loss or deafness may also be a characteristic of another disability such as Down syndrome, Usher syndrome, Treacher Collins syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, and Alport syndrome (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In all cases, early detection and treatment are very important to the child’s development.
How can Microsoft Accessibility Help?
• Adjust accessibility settings from the Ease of Access Center
• Use text or visual alternatives to sounds
• Adjust computer volume
• Change computer sounds
• Use Office features for hearing solutions
Depending on the learning or work environment, individuals may be able to use a combination of Windows, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Lync, to communicate via text rather than spoken dialogue with classmates or workmates in real time.