Hearing Impairment and Deafness

What is hearing impairment and deafness?

Hearing impairment is a permanent or temporary difficulty with hearing. Hearing impairment is considered less severe than the loss of hearing in deafness. The four types of hearing loss include conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and central. Conductive hearing impairment takes place in the middle or outer ear and can be caused by disease or blockage. This type of hearing loss is not typically severe and often responds well to use of a hearing aid. Hearing loss that is sensorineural can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of damage to the hair cells or nerves of the inner ear. Since this type of hearing loss affects frequencies unevenly, this type of hearing loss does not always respond well to the use of hearing aids. A mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural. This loss occurs in both the inner ear and either the outer or middle ear. Damage to the nerves of the central nervous system can result in central hearing loss and typically don’t respond to hearing aids.

What are the characteristics of hearing impairment and deafness?

Some signs that a person isn’t hearing well include not responding to her or his name; asking speakers to repeat what they have said; having a speech delay or speech that is unclear; and/or needing the TV or other electronic volume to be loud.

Where can I go for more information?

Information Sheets