As someone with 100% hearing capabilities, it is almost impossible to understand the hurdles that people who have hearing problems face. These can range from social isolation, communication problems and difficulty getting jobs to something as simple as not hearing train announcements or missing out on the noise of a crowd at a football game.
The hardships that the people with hearing difficulties face all depends on the severity of their condition, as some people can simply have a problem in one ear, while others can be completely deaf and this obviously has a bearing on how they interact with the world around them.
Most people don’t even realize that there is a very definitive difference between hearing loss and deafness, and the difference between the two has a massive impact on the social, physical and cultural aspects of the person affected.
These are the basic differences between the two:
Hearing loss refers to people that were born with some form of hearing capability, whether that is 100% hearing or partial abilities. They generally lose their hearing over time, but are still able to use instruments like hearing aids to help them maintain a partial, if not full hearing capability.
Deafness refers to those that were born deaf or those who have experienced such extreme hearing loss that they are left completely unable to hear. There is no way for these problems to be aided with the use of hearing instruments.
There are a number of causes for hearing loss that range from illness and infection to disease and injury. The ailment could take place suddenly, especially during injury, or the individual’s hearing could deteriorate slowly over a long period of time.
Around 3 in every 1,000 babies is born completely deaf and this is mainly caused by genetic factors, viruses or nerve damage. Sudden complete deafness is often the result of injury and infection of the inner ear.
Hearing loss often occurs after the individual has learnt to speak a language, and this means that after the hearing loss occurs, they should still be able to communicate without much of a speech issue. This is obviously assisted by the fact that many of these individuals can use hearing aids in order to hear other people.
Deafness can often occur before a baby or young child has had time to master any spoken language, especially if it occurs at birth. This means that most deaf individuals speak sign language as their first language.
Big Deaf and little deaf
Culturally there are also differences between the two and here we find out more about the difference. Those who have lost their hearing over time have usually integrated into the ‘hearing world’ and can communicate without many problems. Their main friendship group will also consist of people with full hearing – these individuals call themselves little d’s.
Big D’s are those born deaf or who lost their hearing before learning to speak. They often become part of ‘deaf culture’ and surround themselves with people in the same situation. Their predominant communication form is sign language.
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