Deafness, hearing impairment or hearing loss is a partial or total inability to hear. There are many forms of hearing loss:
- Mild hearing loss
- Moderate hearing loss
- Severe hearing loss
- Profound deafness
This article is to raise awareness of hearing loss as it is more common than people think.
Take myself for example. I am deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. I was born this way but it didn't really get checked out until I was about 10 or 11. This meant I went through my childhood not being able to communicate with other people. I didn't speak to anyone as I was growing up - mainly because I couldn't hear them. Deep down, I was embarrassed. I'm sure my family were too. This is probably because of ignorance and not enough awareness of hearing loss.
When I was found to be deaf, I got a hearing aid. My hair was short at the time, so it was on display and this lead to being bullied by people and there were people who would pass you in the street and say something. I was an easy target. As I didn't know anyone else out there who was also deaf, I was convinced I was alone.
However, that is not the case at all. Hearing loss is more common than people realise. I did some research into facts and figures of hearing loss recently and I surprised myself. In the UK alone, there are 10 million people who have some form of hearing loss. That's the equivalent of 1 in 6 of the population! Surprising, right?
Of this 10 million, 3.7 million are people of working age (16-64) and 6.3 million are over 65 years of age. It is estimated that by the year 2031, 14.5 million people will have hearing loss. This is because of the rate that the population is growing. Hearing aids can help people hear by amplifying the sounds around them. Of the 10 million deaf people, 2 million wear hearing aids but only 1.4 million wear them regularly. There are another 4 million that could benefit from hearing aids but they don't have them. Whether this is a lack of knowledge, or the fact that people seem to have the belief that deaf people are not the same as others.
Children can also be affected by hearing loss too. There are over 45,000 deaf children in the UK alone and the numbers of higher in poorer countries around the world. There are more deafblind people than deaf children as there are 356,000 that have visual and hearing impairments. People don't realise because there is not enough information available unless you go and look for it.
There are many causes of hearing loss:
- Illnesses - measles, meningitis, autoimmune disease, mumps, presbycusis, HIV/AIDs, chlamydia, fetal alcohol syndrome, premature birth, syphilis, otosclerosis, medulloblastoma (brain tumours), superior canal dehiscence, neurological disorders
Hearing impairments are classed as a disability under the Equality Act. This means we have the same rights as everyone else. Statistics show that of severely/profoundly deaf people, they are 4 times more likely to be unemployed. These are the people who do struggle to access sound in their ears and may have to resort to lip - reading or even sign language.
In the work environment, there has been research to suggest that 55% of deaf workers feel they are socially isolated in their work place. This is because people seem to avoid deaf workers as they have the belief that if they are partially deaf, that's it. They can't hear, therefore don't talk to them. No. It doesn't work like that. These people only want to be accepted for who they are.
I hope people will pass on this message, that deaf people are entitled to the same rights as the non-deaf people. Hopefully, this article has shed some light and people will show some appreciation that I've spoken up about it.
Dusty Elm (Dusty2012)