Hearing Loss – The Forgotten Disability

Hearing Loss – A Public Health Concern

The hearing is very important for our well-being, health, and quality of life. It is also very important for maintaining relationships and social connections with family and friends. Regardless of all of this, hearing loss is regarded as a less concern disability. But undeniably, it is of public health concern. Hearing Loss disability percentage covers the majority part of the world.

One out of every three people will suffer from hearing loss by the age of 65. The changes in education, awareness, access, and affordability, as well as technologic advances, will help in making people aware of the forgotten disability.

The following chart shows the age at which hearing loss begins along with percentage distribution by sex (gender) and age.

hearing loss age chart
Chart created by the NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

25 years ago there are some issues about hearing disability and we are still discussing the same issues after introducing the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA). For the exact meaning of term “disability” and “access”, it changed into physical disability and physical access. The ADA symbol is used to represent the disability of wheelchair not for multiple disabilities and this ADA symbol do not symbolize all kind of disability.

Problem is that the hearing loss is not considered as a real disability. Hearing aids, which is different from a wheelchair, are not noticeable for anyone that’s why hearing disability is an invisible disability. 

There is a confusion about the need for a different form of access for the people with hearing disability. Disability Pride Parade firstly use the wheelchair symbol to represent the deafness and then American Sign Language (ASL) symbol is used to represent a hearing loss. However many people do not use the ASL for hearing loss.

As we all know that people who have hearing loss cannot drive and text message simultaneously because they can only see one place at a time. It looks like incomprehensible that theaters, entertainment venues or museums expect people who have a hearing impairment to watch two places at one time. That’s why some companies sell handheld captioning devices which is used for watching films and movies in the theater.

ADA covers the State and local governments and the model of the ADA is federal government agencies which are covered by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Difference between federal agencies has been finding out by the services provided by the federal agencies. The Pentagon required the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum added induction loops to its space shuttle exhibit to receive the shuttle but the Smithsonian Institution denies to add the hearing induction loops to its videos.

At Least One central place should be there for the complaints of not following the rules of ADA. The whole burden should be given to the government to identify that which one agency is responsible for not giving the hearing access and also the person does not find the services. Access board should have the full responsibility and supervision for the standards of all the built-in or programmatic access. This will remove all the faults and mistakes. ADA should also clarify that the meaning of effective communication for people who have deafness is the full range like audible, visual and qualified interpretation. The intention of ADA is that people who have hearing disability deserve to have this type of clarity and access and it is mandatory to establish it.

Strategies that will help to promote awareness about hearing loss

Education and Awareness

It is less common for people to wear hearing devices than to wear contacts or glasses. This is because of the misconception that hearing loss is associated with aging. But it’s not true because around 65% of people with hearing loss are below 65.

Education can help in dealing with this problem. By educating individuals about hearing loss, the misconception regarding the disability will diminish. Right education and information about hearing loss will help individuals to make well-informed decisions about their treatment. The information should encompass the wide range of services and technologies, as well as their comparative effectiveness and costs.

Access and Affordability

One of the most common reasons why most of the people don’t take this disability seriously is their dissatisfaction with hearing health care. Hearing aids and other assistive technologies play an important role in hearing health care. But often these services and treatments are costly and difficult to access. So, most of the sufferers live with hearing loss for many years before seeking a hearing aid.

Recommendations to improve accessibility-

  • Remove barriers such as the regulation that an adult seeking hearing aids have to perform medical evaluation by a physician.
  • Health care providers should take into account hearing health in regular medical and wellness visits when there is cause for concern.

Affordability is also an important part of making health care decisions. The recommendation in order to improve affordability are-

  • Payers, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, evaluate options to provide more coverage to their beneficiaries.

Hearing Devices and Technologies

hearing aid technology

There are different types of hearing loss. Some may have a mild hearing loss, others may have a severe hearing loss, and while some are born with hearing loss, others develop it later on in life. With the severity of hearing loss, a wide range of technologies should be available to meet these diverse and unique needs. There is a need for Over-the-counter wearable hearing devices in order to increase the number of options available to a consumer. This will allow consumers and patients to be more hands-on and gain greater control over their own health.

Facts about deafness & hearing loss

Approx 10 million people exist who have been suffering from hearing loss. We never notice that people because hearing disabilities are invisible and that is the biggest disadvantage. That’s why people who are deaf and hard of hearing easily ignored and avoided. But approx 10 million people make it happen and bring deafness the second largest disability in the UK.

A few facts and figures

  • There is 1 out of 6 people are suffering from loss of hearing in UK (Approx 10 million).
  • 6.5 million people with deafness are at the age of 60 and older.
  • 3.7 million people with deafness are at the age in between 25-50.
  • Approx 2 million people who have hearing disability using hearing aids.
  • Around 800,000 people are severely or profoundly deaf.
  • Numerous people who have hearing loss also have tinnitus and balance difficulties.
  • Loss of hearing rapidly increases with the age.

Words describing deafness and hearing loss

  • Deafened – people who were born with hearing and due to some accident lost all of their hearing.
  • Hard of hearing – people who have lost some degree of hearing.
  • deaf (lowercase ‘d’) – people who were born deaf or become deaf. They may communicate by using the sign language.
  • Deaf (uppercase ‘D’)- people who are full members of the deaf community and communicate almost exclusively with sign language.
  • Hearing impairment, hearing-impaired – people who have any level of deafness.
  • Acquired deafness – people who were born with hearing and later lost some or all hearing.
  • Acquired profound hearing disability– people who were born with hearing and later lost a significant amount or all of their hearing.

Read More-

Hearing Loss in Children

Age-Related Hearing Loss In Older

Hearing Loss – The Forgotten Disability
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