Hearing loss and implications for communication language
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Hearing Loss and implications for Communication/language. The nature of sound Types of losses Possible causes of hearing loss Educational implications Preparing students for hearing assessment. The nature of sound. A wave phenomenon with two dimensions

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Hearing loss and implications for communication language

Hearing Loss and implications for Communication/language

The nature of sound

Types of losses

Possible causes of hearing loss

Educational implications

Preparing students for hearing assessment


The nature of sound
The nature of sound

  • A wave phenomenon with two dimensions

  • Frequency (Hz) - Hertz (cycles per second)

    - the number of vibrations of air particles per second: measured in Hertz

    - the human ear has a frequency range of approximately 20-20,000

    - typically hearing is tested from 250-8000 Hz


Hz low and high frequencies impact on speech discrimination
Hz Low and high frequencies – impact on speech discrimination:

  • Psychological attribute which corresponds to frequency is pitch

  • Low frequency is perceived as low pitch and high frequency as high pitched sounds

  • Middle C on a piano is 250Hz, one octave below is 125 Hz

  • High pitched sounds include: a soprano voice, a doorbell

  • In general, vowel sounds are low-pitched and consonant sounds are high frequency sounds


2 the other dimension is intensity measured in decibels db
2. The other dimension is intensity, measured in decibels (dB)

  • “loudness”

  • Usable hearing is from 0-120 dB

  • dBs are intensity ratios

  • 20dB is not double of 10dB, but 100 times greater

  • The strongest sounds an average person can hear without pain can be as much as 10 million times greater in intensity than a sound that is barely audible


  • For example: (dB)

    - 20 dB a whisper at four feet

    - 50 dB - quiet auto ten feet away

    -60-70 dB - normal conversation at three feet

    - 90 dB - pneumatic drill at ten feet


Speech acoustics
Speech acoustics (dB)

  • Spectral characteristics make sound complex

  • Vowels are lower frequency - generallly having their most intense frequency components below 750 Hz

  • Consonants are composed of higher frequency sounds often consisting of a wide range of frequency components


  • In addition, vowels and consonants also differ in the amount of acoustical energy they produce

  • For an equivalent amount of vocal effort, the range between the loudest vowel (the o sound in the word dog) and the softest consonant (th sound) - is 28 dB

  • Vowels are therefore the most intense sounds heard in speech, while consonants are considerably less intense

  • However, consonants carry the most information


  • Consonants above 1000 Hz provide 60% of speech intelligibility, while vowels below 500 Hz provide only 5% of speech intelligibility

  • <Illustration>

  • Thus, shouting at an individual with a sensorineural hearing loss will do little to improve comprehension because the vowels will be the louder and the consonants will continue to be less audible

  • For this reason even mild hearing losses of 30-60 dB can have a big impact on speech intelligibility


Types of loss
Types of loss intelligibility, while vowels below 500 Hz provide only 5% of speech intelligibility

  • Conductive

  • Sensorineural impairments

  • Mixed impairments

  • Central auditory impairment


Follow up to formal assessment
Follow up to formal assessment intelligibility, while vowels below 500 Hz provide only 5% of speech intelligibility

  • Interpreting audiograms - this is the role of the audiologist

  • The job of the educational team is to get as much information from the audiologist and the speech therapist about the nature of the speech sounds that the student can hear - with and without aids


Educational Decisions related to communication strategies for students with hearing impairments and deafness


Will you use visual aids
Will you use visual aids? for students with hearing impairments and deafness



Choosing a communication system the issues
Choosing a communication system – the issues symbols?

  • American Sign Language (ASL)

  • Oral language

  • Cochlear implants

  • Combination approaches


Educational implications
Educational Implications symbols?

  • Literacy: issues in teaching children who are deaf to read

  • Same language community issues

  • Teachers trained in working with children/youth with hearing impairments and deafness

  • Social supports and friendship development


Least restrictive environment
Least restrictive environment symbols?

  • Participation in the core curriculum with support for language and social engagement

  • Interpreters, interveners, and support teachers

  • Signing community – same-language community


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