Hearing impairment or deafness is when your hearing is affected by a disease, disorder, or injury. Different levels of hearing impairment are defined by the quietest sound heard. This is measured in decibels. The different levels of hearing loss are:
Mild deafness - The quietest sounds heard are between 25 and 39 decibels. Mild deafness can cause some difficulty following speech, in noisy areas.
Moderate deafness - The quietest sounds heard are between 40 and 69 decibels. People with moderate deafness may have difficulty following speech without a hearing aid.
Severe deafness - The quietest sounds heard are between 70 and 94 decibels. People with severe deafness will usually need to rely on lip-reading or sign language, even with a hearing aid.
Profound deafness - The quietest sounds heared are 95 decibels or more.
Many people suffer from different types of hearing loss, such as not being able to hear certain words or not being able to hear properly if there is too much background noise. Some of the different types of hearing loss are as follows:
High Frequency Hearing Loss – This is one of the most common types of hearing loss. Approximately 60% of the sounds needed to understand speech are located in the high frequencies. High frequency hearing loss makes speech difficult to decipher as many important speech cues are not heard. High frequency hearing loss is often progressive and people may be unaware that their hearing has deteriorated. The sounds that someone with high frequency hearing loss hears can be described as 'vowelly' as the vowels make up most of what can be heard. High frequency hearing loss affects up to 95% of hearing impaired people. Those with high-frequency hearing loss cannot hear sounds like ‘st’ and ‘ch’, so words like stair and chair result in sounding like air.
Background sounds – These sounds are present in many environments and can be a serious source of distraction for people with a hearing impairment. This may be due to the hearing aid that is in use amplifying all sounds, not just the sounds the user needs to hear. This distraction often leads to difficulties in concentration and a lack of performance. Some digital hearing aids amplify sound frequencies around normal speech in an attempt to minimise background sounds. The simulation contains background sounds that are likely to be found in most office and educational settings. Much of it would go unnoticed by people without a hearing impairment.
Low Frequency Hearing Loss - A person who has low frequency hearing loss will have difficulties hearing many everyday sounds that are not words such as dogs barking, traffic noise and weather sounds. Low frequency hearing loss also affects the hearing of vowels which tend to be in lower frequencies.
There is now a good range of amplified telephones available on the internet to help people suffering from varying degrees of hearing loss. These specialist extra loud phones range in price from as little as £20.99 and can be purchased online.
Some of the phones available are specifically designed for people suffering from high frequency hearing loss. These amplified phones have an inbuilt sound equaliser so only the high frequency sounds are amplified. There is a wide choice of phones including corded and cordless phones and digital phones in range of colours including white, black and anthracite.
The amplified phones that are specifically designed for people with varying levels of hearing loss are eligible for VAT relief. This means that the VAT that is added to the total cost of the phone is discounted. Some online retailers offer this and it normally requires a form to be completed explaining why the customer is entitles to VAT relief.