Hearing Impairment / Deafness

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Hearing Impairment / Deafness
Hearing Impairment / Deafness

Video: Hearing Impairment / Deafness

Video: Hearing Impairment / Deafness
Video: Understanding Hearing Loss in Children - Nemours Children's Health System 2023, September

Hearing impairment / deafness

One speaks of hearing impairment when the hearing ability is impaired. This can range from hearing loss to deafness and permanent deafness. Both can be innate or acquired in the course of life. Visual aids such as lip reading can make communication easier, but only convey a small part of the actual message. Sign language is recognized in Austria as an independent and full language.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Causes of Hearing Impairment
  • Degrees of severity
  • Communication options
  • Hearing aids & implants
  • Dealing with hearing impaired people
  • Services & information from the official help.gv.at.

Causes of Hearing Impairment

The causes of hearing impairment include:

  • Noise hearing loss (e.g. in young people after concerts, disco),
  • Old age hearing loss,
  • congenital hearing impairment,
  • Lack of oxygen around the time of birth,
  • Meningitis,
  • Sudden hearing loss,
  • Otosclerosis (disease of the middle and inner ear in which parts of the ear harden / ossify) and
  • Injuries (of the ear or brain).

Degrees of severity

A distinction is made between the following degrees of hearing impairment:

  • Slightly hard of hearing (hearing loss of 20–40 dB): Noise interferes with speech comprehension, whispering or soft noises are hardly or not at all perceived.
  • Moderately hard of hearing (40–60 dB hearing loss): Difficulty following conversations.
  • Severely hard of hearing (hearing loss of 60–80 dB): A hearing aid is required to follow conversations, only loud noises can be heard.
  • Hard of hearing bordering on deafness (hearing loss of 80–95 dB): Only very loud noises are perceived.
  • Deafness (hearing loss greater than 90 dB).

For the most severely hard of hearing to deaf people, complete information transfer is usually only possible through sign language, as a lot of information is lost when lip reading (an average of 30 percent can be read depending on the context).

Communication options

If deafness occurs in the course of adulthood, the spoken language is usually retained. Ideally, deaf and hard of hearing children are taught bilingually - in Austrian sign language and German. However, this is not possible at every school. There are also special schools for deaf and hard of hearing children and young people.

There are basically two main groups of people with hearing impairments:

  • Sign language-oriented hearing-impaired people: Communication via sign language (Austrian sign language with regional dialects), mostly with severely hard of hearing and deaf people.
  • Speech-oriented hearing-impaired people: communication via spoken language, mostly with the hard of hearing or later deaf people.

Visual aids such as lip reading, writing or gestures can facilitate communication, but only convey a small part of the message. Sign languages are visual-gestural languages with their own structure and grammar. Sign language has been recognized in Austria as an independent and full language since 2005.

Note The expression "deaf and dumb" is perceived by many deaf people as discriminatory. In very few cases they are mute and can formulate sounds individually, but cannot hear them. The term “mute” also gives the impression that deaf people have no way of expressing themselves. However, they have a fully fledged language through which they can communicate and identify themselves - sign language.

People who are deaf and blind also communicate via so-called Lormen. The “speaking” can convey messages by touching the palm of the hand of the “reader”. Certain hand parts are assigned letters (Lorm alphabet).

Hearing aids & implants

For more information on hearing aids and implants (e.g. cochlear implants), see Deafness: Diagnosis & Therapy.

Dealing with hearing impaired people

If you speak to someone and they don't respond, it may be due to a hearing impairment. If you already know about it, avoid approaching the person in question from behind, but always in the field of vision. During a conversation, look directly at the other person and speak clearly with emphasized gestures and facial expressions, whereby you should not overdo it. If possible, do not shout or speak too loudly. Contrary to most assumptions, people who are hard of hearing are often very sensitive to noise. You can improve communication in many cases by means of writing (e.g. a note on a piece of paper). By taking a sign language course, you will learn a new, recognized language yourself. Sign language interpreters offer translations in important life situations.

People with disabilities can work in many jobs, including those with higher qualifications, and take part in social life. The aim is to (re) integrate into everyday (professional) life and lead a life that is as independent and self-determined as possible.

Services & information from the official help.gv.at

The Ministry of Social Affairs offers comprehensive information on the subject of disability and social issues as well as working life and the National Action Plan on Disability. The Austrian Association of the Deaf also provides information on the topic on its website. You can find everything to do with the search for a doctor / hospital or search for health services or self-help groups under Services.

The official help.gv.at offers comprehensive information on the topic of subsidies, financial support and much more.

Additional Information:

  • Hearing loss
  • Disability pass
  • The way to medical aids and aids
  • Information in sign language on the website of the Ministry of Health

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