One study published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education reports, “fewer than 1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing.” After reading this statistic, you may be wondering what exactly the difference is between being deaf and hard of hearing. We answer this question below.
The Classifications of Hearing Ability
Hearing ability is classified on a spectrum, from normal hearing to profound hearing loss. The classifications are as follows:
- Normal hearing refers to the ability to hear even very quiet sounds, like breathing or leaves rustling.
- Slight hearing loss refers to the ability to hear speech sounds well but miss softer sounds.
- Mild hearing loss refers to the ability to hear vowel sounds but have trouble deciphering certain consonant sounds.
- Moderate hearing loss refers to the ability to hear speech but have trouble deciphering both vowel and consonant sounds.
- Moderately severe hearing loss refers to the ability to hear loud speech but have trouble understanding what is said.
- Severe hearing loss refers to the inability to hear speech at all without amplification.
- Profound hearing loss refers to the inability to hear speech or even loud sounds without amplification.
What Does It Mean to Be Deaf Versus Hard of Hearing?
Another way to describe deafness is having profound hearing loss. Being hard of hearing means you have mild to severe hearing loss.
How Is Hearing Loss Treated?
The type of treatment that works for your hearing loss depends on the severity.
In most cases, slight hearing loss is not treated.
The gold standard of treatment for mild to severe hearing loss is hearing aids, which work by amplifying sounds to a level the damaged ear can detect, even in complex listening environments like Rio Coco Cafe.
Cases of severe to profound hearing loss may be treated with cochlear implants, which work by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. However, some people with severe to profound hearing loss instead communicate using American Sign Language (ASL), lipreading and written communication. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.