Hearing impairment is a disability that affects communication. The amount of hearing loss is represented as a hearing acuity and can range from a slight hearing impairment (difficulty hearing faint or distant speech or sound) to a profound hearing impairment (complete inability to hear sound, ability to perceive direct physical vibrations only). Students usually have a mild to severe hearing loss and use speech as their primary mode of communication.
- Mild: Students may miss up to 50% of class discussions especially if voices are soft or the environment is noisy. Loss is between 26 to 40 decibels.
- Moderate: Classroom conversation from three to five feet away can be understood if the structure and vocabulary are controlled. Loss is between 41 to 70 decibels.
- Severe: Students can only hear loud noises at close distances and can miss up to 100% of speech information. Loss is between 71 to 90 decibels.
- Profound: Students rely on vision rather than hearing for processing information. A loss of 91 decibels or more is described as profound.
Hard of hearing refers to those people with a mild to moderate hearing loss who use their residual hearing and speech to communicate. Many hard of hearing individuals can understand some speech sounds with or without a hearing aid. Generally, these individuals supplement their residual hearing with speech reading, hearing aids and other technical devices.
Deafened or late-deafened describes individuals who grow up hearing or hard of hearing and suddenly, or gradually, experience a profound loss of hearing. Late-deafened adults usually cannot understand speech without visual clues such as print interpretation (e.g., computerized note-taking), speech reading or sign language.
Deaf is generally used to describe individuals with a severe to profound hearing loss, with little or no residual hearing. Some deaf persons use sign language to communicate. Others use speech to communicate, having learned to use their residual hearing and hearing aids, technical devices or cochlear implants, and lip-reading or speech reading. It is important to note that, although a person may be proficient in lip-reading, only 30-40 per cent of spoken English is understandable by speech reading alone.
Culturally Deaf refers to individuals who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, and who identify and participate in the language, culture and community of deaf people, based on sign language.
All students seeking to register with the CAL must submit the Application for Services Form as well as supporting documentation, which must be filled out according to the guidelines below.
Supporting documentation:Verification of Disability Form
Appropriate professional: audiologist
Documentation should include:
- An audiogram (indicates the degree of hearing loss measured in decibel loss according to internationally agreed upon standards)
- A statement of the amount of hearing loss (e.g., hearing acuity), the nature of the student's residual hearing abilities and whether the disability is stable, progressive or fluctuating
- A statement of the impact of the impairment on the student’s functioning in a university environment (e.g., the need for assistive listening devices, interpreters)