Hearing is central to our health and well-being and is critical for the development of speech, spoken language, communication skills and learning. Deafness or loss of hearing at any age has a significant impact on educational attainment, employment and quality of life.
- Deafness is a low incidence-high needs condition.
- The Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP), advances in technology and effective early intervention programmes mean that children are making better progress than ever before and the long-term impacts of deafness are being minimised.
- Children identified with hearing loss who are appropriately supported before 6 months of age have the potential to develop language (spoken or signed) on a par with their hearing peers (Yoshinaga-Itano et al, 1998).
- The speech and language therapist has a central role in providing individualised assessment, diagnosis and intervention to the child in partnership with his/her family. This should reflect the choices the family have made regarding communication mode and habilitation approach.
- Noise exposure and ageing are the primary causes of hearing loss in adults in the UK.
- It is important for clinicians to differentiate between hearing loss and cognitive impairment and to identify when one or both of these conditions are present.
- Clear links have been established between hearing loss and dementia (Lin et al, 2011).
- Many older adults will have both hearing impairment and cognitive loss, and together these losses will affect communication, social participation, and quality of life (Pichora-Fuller, Dupuis, Reed, & Lemke, 2013).
- Although hearing loss can be associated with health issues, it has a wider societal impact.An integrated approach to effective service provision involves public, private and voluntary sectors, including people with hearing loss themselves (Department of Health, 2015).
View deafness sections:
- Introduction: characteristics, aetiology, vulnerability and risk issues.
- Role of speech and language therapy: assessment, diagnosis and management.
- National policy context for deafness
- Prevalence and incidence statistics
- Evidence and research
- Guidelines and supporting resources
- RCSLT Bulletin feature articles
- Useful contacts: RCSLT advisers, RCSLT clinical excellence networks, key organisations.
- Reference list
- Website contributors and date of last review
Cross reference with other topic areas:
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
- Cleft lip and palate
- Developmental speech difficulties
- Language disorder
- Mental health
- Motor disorders
- Multi-sensory impairments
- Specific language impairment