Having been profoundly deaf since birth, I can not claim to have a good personal understanding of mild hearing loss. However, I am aware that a mild hearing loss, if not identified and treated, can harm speech and language development in young children, and can have an impact on communication with people.
What Is a Mild Hearing Loss?
A mild hearing loss is typically classified as a hearing loss of around 26 to 45 decibels.
What Are Its Effects?
If someone is close enough to a person with mild hearing loss, the person usually won't have any trouble understanding. However, if someone is farther away or the background environment is noisy, a person with mild hearing loss may not be able to understand. Plus, weak voices are difficult for people with mild hearing losses to understand. This can affect interpersonal relationships and degree of social interaction, and even careers. Parents post frequently on the internet, seeking advice for dealing with mild hearing loss in their children. For example, a parent that came into the About: Deafness chat room said that they had recognized their child had a mild hearing loss when the child stopped talking, and that the hearing loss had been difficult to pin down in such a young child. If you are a parent with concerns about mild hearing loss in your child, you can post your questions on the About: Deafness forum in the parenting/education folder.
How Do I Treat One?
The answer to that question is an obvious one - if it is merited by the loss, get a hearing aid. However, it is well known that many people with mild losses will not bother to get hearing aids, either because of cost or because of personal sensitivity about wearing hearing aids (even though in the canal aids and tiny aids are available). Another reason that some people with mild hearing loss refuse to get hearing aids, is because they think that the hearing aids will not make sound clearer and more understandable. There are also other means of compensating for a mild hearing loss, such as better seating or the use of assistive listening devices.
What Other Information is Available?
Mild hearing loss because of its nature is far more common than profound hearing losses, yet we seem to hear so little about them and there seems to be little material available specifically addressing mild hearing loss.
- Helping Your Hard of Hearing Child to Succeed - This article from AG Bell addresses both mild and moderate hearing losses in children.
- Hearing Loss Association of America publishes a brochure on early/mild hearing loss, available via its catalog in the medical, research, and rehabilitation category.
- Hearing Health magazine has published articles on mild hearing loss.
What Happens if Mild Hearing Loss is Ignored?An About visitor with a mild hearing loss described her experience: I denied having a hearing loss for many years for it was a mild loss and this is hard for teachers or even parents to detect. I knew that something was wrong but did not know what. I never could hear a watch tick or even hear whispers like when a child would whisper something in class. My brother one year told me that my hearing was deterioating and I told him no. This is why I was having trouble keeping a job. People look at the handicap as though they are stupid and should be put away. I have had two supervisors tell me this.
When I found out why I was not keeping a job I became angry and this led to depression. I have proven many people wrong about my abilities to do things and will continue to do this. I even graduated with my class much to the surprise of the teachers. I did not graduate with honors for it was to much hard work. I have had a good life in spite of having been hoh. I have done things that many people thought I would not do.