Hearing impairment can be defined as the partial or total loss of hearing.
Hearing impairments can be categorized as follows:
Hard of hearing:
- Mild: difficulty hearing soft sounds, such as whispering. Can benefit from hearing aids.
- Moderate: difficulty hearing during conversations. Can benefit from hearing aids.
- Severe: can only hear loud sounds.
Deafness: difficulty hear any sound at all. Cannot benefit from hearing aids.
Depending on the severity of hearing impairment, it may also affect speech, particularly if it begins before a child acquires spoken language.
How to refer someone with a hearing impairment
This ‘person-first’ language has received wide acceptance among persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. In some countries they prefer to be called “sign language users” – however, this is problematic in that not all sign language users are persons with hearing impairment. There are also many local derogatory names used in communities and at schools to refer to people with hearing impairments. Such names affect their self-esteem and personal motivation and should be avoided.