Understanding hearing loss
There are varying degrees of hearing loss, with some people experiencing mild to profound loss of hearing (hard of hearing), and others a complete loss of hearing (d/Deaf). A diagnosis is required to ascertain the severity of the hearing loss. There are different types of hearing impairment: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and a mixed hearing impairment combining the former types.
What is the difference between deaf, Deaf, hearing impaired and hard of hearing?
The deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse. There are variations in how a person becomes deaf or hard of hearing, as well as their level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, and communication methods. These affect how people who experience hearing loss identify.
Here are some of the different terminologies and identifiers used within the deaf and hard of hearing community:
- Deaf (with a capitalised D) is used to describe those who use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to communicate, and who identify as members of the signing Deaf community.
These people may also identify themselves as "culturally Deaf." They are more likely to have been born deaf or become deaf early in life.
- deaf (with a small d) is a more general term used to describe the physical condition of not hearing, and also to describe people who are physically deaf but do not identify as members of the signing Deaf community.
- Hard of hearing is the term that Deaf Australia now uses to describe those who have acquired a hearing loss in late childhood or adulthood, or who have a mild or moderate hearing loss. These people usually communicate using speech, lip-reading and residual hearing (often amplified by hearing aids).
- Hearing impaired is used by many people as their preferred alternative term for "hard of hearing".
What causes deafness?
There are many reasons why people can be born deaf or experience hearing loss, including:
- exposure to loud noise (working environment or a war zone)
- some medicines and medical conditions
- abnormal growth of the tiny bones in the middle ear
- damage or malfunction of the cochlear in the inner ear
- problems with the nerve between the cochlear and the brain
- as a person ages
Facts about hearing loss
- One in six Australians currently experience hearing loss
- There is now a wide range of modern hearing aids and technology to assist with hearing, although only one-in-five Australians who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one.
- The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreting has stated that Auslan interpreting is third highest language provision behind Arabic and Mandarin (Chinese) languages in Australia.
- Auslan variations occur due to regions, social groups, age, gender, education [both access to and lack of], family backgrounds and ethnicity.
How can CPL help?
Community access is an important part of everyday life. As this looks different for everyone, we will meet with you and your family to discuss what you like to do and how we can support you.
When you make an appointment to see a CPL Allied Health therapist they will work with you to find the equipment that suits you best. These can include hearing aids and Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) such as streaming devices or Bluetooth enabled hearing devices.
CPL provides 24/7 Supported Independent Living services, and has a number of vacancies in accessible homes.
There are a range of disability employment and training pathways for people with hearing loss, designed to help you reach your goals.