top of page

Deafness and Hearing Impairment

Did you know that more than 34 million people in the U.S have Hearing loss? Keep reading to learn more!

Definitions to Know 

  • Hearing Impairment: “an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section”

  • Deafness:  “a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, and that adversely affects a child’s educational performance”


  • More than 34 million people in the US have hearing loss 

    • Highest prevalence for individuals 65 years and older 

  • Slightly less than 2% of students who are treated for disabilities ages 6-21 in the US Public schools are under hearing impairment = 69,220 students

  • 40% of all who are Deaf or hearing impaired  have.. 

    • Educationally significant disabilities 

    • Intellectual disabilities 

    • Learning disabilities 

    • ADHD 

    • Other health impairments


What Causes Hearing Loss? 

  • Hearing Loss can occur before or after birth 

    • Present at birth: Congenital Hearing Loss

    • After birth: Acquired, adventitious Hearing Loss

  • Many educational professionals look at pre and post speech development 

    • Pre speech development: Prelingual 

    • Post speech development: postlingual 

  • Generally, professionals believe that the longer children have had a normal hearing, the greater chance they will maintain that knowledge and communication skills 

Different types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive Hearing Loss: Problem of the outer or middle ear prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: caused by a problem in the inner ear or along the nerve pathway to the brain stem. As a result, the sound that travels to the inner ear and brain stem is not delivered at all or is much softer or distorted

  • Mixed hearing loss: involves both a conductive and a sensorineural loss.

  •  Bilateral hearing loss: a loss in both ears

  • Unilateral hearing loss: a loss in only one ear. 

  • Fluctuating hearing loss: may function differently from day to day because of periodic ear infections or a buildup of fluid or earwax.

Characteristics of Students with Hearing Loss

  • Impact on Communication 

    • Not all children communicate the same

    • Children with two deaf parents develop ASL at the same rate as a hearing child with 2 hearing parents develop english 

    • Types of communication options 

      • Spoken English 

      • Cued Speech 

      • Signing exact english 

      • Signing English 

      • Contact Signing/Pidgin Sign 

      • ASL 

  • Academic Impact 

    • Math: Children with HL/D are significantly better at Math

    • Writing: Students with HL/D may have a harder time writing due to writing being a second form of a primary language that they have not yet mastered 

  • Social Emotional Characteristics 

    • Fewer friends due to the inability to communicate 

    • Efforts need to be made to bridge communication between hearing, hearing impaired and deaf students. 

  • Behavioral Characteristics 

    • Often lag behind socially 

    • Often miss verbal explanations to why certain behaviors are inappropriate. 

    • Limited Conversation Patterns 

    • Limited Vocabulary to express feelings 

    • Often use PATHS to solve challenging behaviors with students who have HL

5 Awesome Movies about Deafness and Hearing Loss

bottom of page