Deafness and Hard of Hearing:  An Overview


ACT’s Hard of Hearing Center caters to those that are deaf and/or hard of hearing. The term “Deaf” generally refers to people who were born without the ability to hear. Students who are deaf may have little or no speech depending on the severity of the hearing loss and the age of onset. They will often communicate through a sign language or an interpreter.

Living Comfortably with Deafness

People that are deaf use American Sign Language (ASL). It has its own grammar and word order. Other students may use manual English (or signed English), which is sign language in English word order. A certified interpreter is used for translation into either language. Students who are deaf may also benefit from real-time captioning, where spoken text is typed and projected onto a screen.

Hard of Hearing

“Hard of hearing” refers to the slow progression of hearing loss. Some students who are hard of hearing may hear only specific frequencies or sounds within a certain volume range. They may have speech impairments because of their inability to hear their own voices clearly. These students may rely heavily upon hearing aids and lip reading. Some students who are hard of hearing may never learn sign language.

People who have hearing impairments may find it difficult to simultaneously watch demonstrations and follow verbal descriptions, especially if they are watching a sign language interpreter, a captioning screen, or a speaker’s lips. Small group discussions may also be difficult to follow or participate in, particularly if the discussion is fast-paced and unmoderated since there is often lag time between a speaker’s comments and interpretation.

Living Comfortably with Being HoH

Students who are hard of hearing may use hearing aids. If hearing aids are used, the students will likely benefit from amplification in other forms such as assistive listening devices (ALDs) like hearing aid compatible telephones, personal neck loops, and audio induction loop assistive listening systems. Some students use FM amplification systems which require the presenter to wear a small microphone to transmit amplified sound to the student.

Hard of Hearing Center
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