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This week I’d like to look at the different types of deafness; profoundly deaf, severely deaf, hard of hearing, etc. Of course there are many different types of deafness out there, caused by different things, but I want to just focus on a few.
To do so, you may want to look at this:

http://www.hearinglink.org/your-hearing/hearing-tests-audiograms/what-is-an-audiogram/ where you can read more about audiograms).

PROFOUND DEAFNESS

As you can see from the chart, profound hearing loss is highest level of hearing loss possible, and is the furthest away from “normal” hearing. (I say “normal” in inverted commas as I mean in relation to mainstream society – to the deaf community, “normal” hearing may not be considered normal!)
People with a profound hearing loss will struggle, or be unable to, hear sounds at 100 decibels or more. To put that into context for you, the noise of a jackhammer is 100 decibels.
SEVERE DEAFNESS
Severe deafness is the second highest level of hearing loss. Those with a severe hearing loss may struggle to hear loud speech, but may be able to hear it with amplification, such as hearing aids. From the chart above, a severe hearing loss is not being able to hear things at 80 – 100 decibels. For context, the noise of a food blender sits at around 88 decibels.
MODERATE DEAFNESS
Moderate deafness sits in the middle of the chart, with people struggling to hear between 40 – 70 decibels, which is the decibel level of a spoken conversation in a quiet suburb. People with a moderate hearing loss may use hearing aids to enable them to hear with greater clarity, but it is important to remember that these will not “fix” the hearing loss. Hearing aids will also amplify ALL sounds, not just the voices of a conversation.
DEAF AND DUMB/MUTE
Not a thing, don’t ever say it.
Whilst it is important to know the different types of deafness and how to adjust access to suit these different levels, it’s important to remember that these are labels. These labels will mostly be used within a medical environment in order to discuss appropriate technology to support each individual.
Last week I talked about how destructive it can be to label people, and I say the same again. A person with a hearing loss is much more than a person with a hearing loss, and it is important to remember this.
Each deaf person is different, with different needs and communication methods. What’s important to remember is not the label, but the identity of the individual. Having any form of hearing loss does not automatically make you identify with the deaf community.
In summary; respect each deaf person, and the identity they have. If you’re not sure of the appropriate terminology to describe their needs – ask them!
And never, ever, use the phrase “deaf and dumb”
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