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What Is Hearing Impairment?

Hearing impairment is a term used to describe the inability to hear and is characterised by four levels of hearing loss. The difference between these levels is determined by the lowest level of sounds a person is able to perceive.

Mild hearing loss

This level of hearing loss results in an inability to hear sounds in the range between 26dB to 40dB, which makes it difficult for the listener to follow a conversation in a noisy environment or understand people standing further away or speaking with a mild tone.

Moderate hearing loss

If a person cannot hear sounds between 41dB and 70dB they will be diagnosed with moderate hearing loss. Background noise is an even greater issue for them during a conversation and they can greatly benefit from the use of a hearing aid.

Severe hearing loss

This is a serious condition that makes it impossible for people to hear sounds in the range between 70dB and 90dB. The use of a hearing aid could partly improve their ability to collect sounds and allow them to participate in conversations, but even then, this group of hard of hearing still has to rely on lip reading or sign language.

Profound hearing loss

Profound hearing loss has a great impact on the sufferer’s social and everyday life, as they experience difficulties in understanding even speech amplified through a hearing aid. The use of sign language and lip reading is usually compulsory.

Benefits for hard of hearing

The UK government offers different programs and benefits for disabled people, including hearing impaired. Depending on the severity of their condition, the amount of help they need to communicate and the overall effects on their way of living, the assistance options vary. Those suffering from hearing loss should check the possibility to take advantage of benefit programs such as “Disability Living Allowance”, “Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit” (if the disability is a result of an accident during work), “Armed Forces Compensation Scheme” (if the condition was caused while performing military services), etc. The local social services department can also provide different types of support such as day/home care, counselling, special equipment, etc. Some of the services may require the payment of a charge, while others are free. If your home requires some major remodelling due to your condition, you may apply for the “Disabled Facilities Grant” to reduce some of the costs. People who use a hearing aid may also benefit from the “Disabled Person’s Railcard”.

In case of hearing difficulties, one of the most important actions that need to be undertaken is to have a proper ear examination and a full hearing test. There are many types of tests available, such as hearing checks over the phone and online hearing tests that do not require a visit to the doctor and make a good starting point in case of suspicion of a hearing problem. However, the determination of the exact cause for the condition and its level of severity should be done by a specialist in order to choose the most appropriate hearing aid that can help manage it.

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