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Introduction

Living with hearing loss

Living with hearing loss

Living with hearing loss

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss or a hearing impairment is when someone has partial or a total inability to hear. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and often it can occur gradually with age however in some cases, it can happen suddenly no matter a person’s age.[1]

Is there more than one type of hearing loss?

Contrary to popular belief, hearing loss doesn’t always mean a total inability to hear, there are four different types of hearing loss that can affect people. [2]

1. Conductive hearing loss

This can occur when there is damage or a blockage in the outer and/ or middle ear which can result in sound not being directed through to the eardrum. This could be caused by a buildup of fluid or earwax, repeated ear infections or allergies as well as a perforated eardrum.

2. Sensorineural hearing loss

This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and this occurs when there is damage caused to the hair cells in the cochlea (the inner part of the ear).

3. Mixed hearing loss

This occurs when both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss happens.

4. Auditory Neuropathy

This occurs when there are problems with the auditory nerve which transmits signals from the cochlea to the brain – hearing loss can fluctuate from normal to profound with this type of impairment.

Effects of living with hearing loss

As you can imagine, coming to terms with having a hearing impairment can be distressing and having to make adjustments to your daily life that you’ve never had to think about previously can have a big impact on a person’s life. [3]

One might feel isolated and withdrawn from their friends and family because normal interaction becomes a lot harder. A change in hearing can make someone feel completely excluded from everyday life and really impact on their mental health.

How you can support someone living with hearing loss

Ensuring your spouse, friend or family member suffering from hearing loss knows they have your full support is so important as this can really help them feel less isolated.

Here are a few tips on how you can show your full support [4]:

Do your research

Learning more about hearing loss will increase your patience when supporting someone you know with hearing loss. You may well have experienced temporary hearing loss yourself so you may be able to empathise with them over the frustration over miscommunication. If you have never experienced this then it is important to educate yourself on effective methods of communication and ways you can include them in everyday activities.

Be prepared at social events

If you are attending a group event with someone experiencing hearing loss, you can show your full support by making others aware beforehand of effective communication methods, so they feel more included and their distress is reduced whilst there. You could also make an effort to sit next to your loved one with a hearing impairment and reassure them that they can come to you if they miss any parts of the conversation and you’ll relay the information in an effective way so they feel part of the day.

Be patient

If someone is coming to terms with having a hearing impairment, they may still be figuring out which methods of communication are best for them to interpret. If this is the case, try and help them on their journey and work with them to find the best communication to use so they feel included. Try not to get frustrated with them because chances are, they are feeling even more frustrated than you are.

World Hearing Day 2020

World Hearing day this year is 3 March, and this awareness day is dedicated to finding ways to prevent hearing loss as well as promoting hearing care across the world.

image of a World Hearing Day poster from WHO

The importance of accessible materials for those with hearing loss

A change in hearing can result in someone feeling excluded from everyday life and activities such as work, and education become more difficult.

Making materials that people with hearing impairments can access can be life-changing for them because it gives them the opportunity to take part in everyday activities and feel included again. A simple change that you can make is including transcripts and captions within videos, gifs, and music so that those materials can be accessed by those hard of hearing.

Want to know more?

Connect was initially founded over 25 years ago to provide transcription services and promote accessibility, allowing everyone to achieve. Our transcription services include braille, large print and digital accessible formats using alternative text as well as captioning and transcript services.

To find out more about how we can provide accessible content, please get in touch.


References:

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hearing-loss/

[2] https://deafness.org.au/hearing-loss/about-hearing-loss/types-of-hearing-loss/

[3] https://www.hearinglink.org/living/adjusting-to-hearing-loss/living-with-hearing-loss/

[4] https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/51841-How-to-support-someone-with-hearing-loss


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