“Dealing with Deafness”

Claire Henderson, Staff Writer

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According to the World Health Organization, as of February 2017, “360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and 32 million of these are children.” With a growing number of people across the globe losing hearing and becoming deaf yearly, it is our job as their allies to assist them and make their lives easier. Out of 10 deaf babies, 9 of them are born to hearing parents. These parents then have to adjust their lives to better fit their children. Although most people don’t have deaf children or family, many can agree that there is lack of assistance for those who are deaf on a day to day basis. We need to do more to assist these people.

There are three main causes of deafness and hearing loss: damage to the inner ear, ear infections and abnormal bone growth, and ruptured eardrum. Inner ear damage is caused by age and exposure to loud noises, which can take a toll on the hairs and nerve cells in the ear and break the connection to the brain. Ear infections and abnormal bone growth in the outer ear and middle ear can cause hearing loss as well. Ruptured eardrums can be caused by loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, and poking your eardrum with an object. There are other causes but these are the main reasons for loss in hearing.

Hearing loss can be classified in to two types: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem in the outer ear or middle ear. These issues include buildup in ear was and fluid in the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss can usually be cured with medication or the help of surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss is the other main type of hearing loss and is caused by a problem in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss cannot usually be helped with medicine or surgery; however, hearing aids or cochlear implants can help in most cases. In children, sensorineural hearing loss can occur because of infections before birth, lack of oxygen during birth, or genetic causes

On a daily basis deaf people, whether born deaf or have become deaf later in life, have to struggle with simple tasks that others take for granted. The struggle that affects deaf people most early on in life, and the seemingly most obvious, is the language barrier.Learning to read, write, or comprehend text in English is based on spoken word; however, children that are born deaf may never learn to speak as fluently as those who are not deaf. They may struggle with speech for the entirety of their lives. This plays a part into education because these children are not able to learn to read and write as quickly as hearing students. “The Gallaudet Research Institute in Washington, D.C., tested a group of 926 deaf students, ages 17 to 18, in reading comprehension skills. The results of their tests were equivalent to those of the same tests given to hearing children in the fourth grade.”  Although there are schools for deaf children, many of these schools are expensive and low income families are unable to send their students to these schools. The World Federation of the Deaf (WED), was established in 1951 and strives to promote equality for deaf people.  According to Livestrong, the goal at the top of WED’s priorities is education for deaf people. They are working to better education for deaf and making strides to assist deaf people more.

Although education and speech are big issues that deaf people have to deal with, smaller things that deaf people have to learn to do differently than hearing people can be seen throughout each day. In the morning, they may use an alarm clock that shakes them awake rather than an alarm clock that beeps loudly. Their doorbells consist of a set of lights in each room that flash when rung rather than chiming in the main hall of the house. Phone calls are basically nonexistent to deaf people and instead they use Facetime or Skype to video chat in order to read lips. At the movies, church services, or large assemblies, they may offer special devices for those who are deaf; however, in smaller locations or in rural areas these aids may not be available. These are just a few of the small things that deaf people have to do differently on a day to day basis.

As allies to the deaf community, hearing people should do more to help assist those who are deaf. Although the community as a whole has been moving forward as a whole, there is still work to be done in order to make the lives of deaf people easier as a whole.