Deafness is a medical condition in which the afflicted individual cannot hear or distinguish any sound. It can refer to either a total inability to perceive sound or an inability to perceive certain pitch ranges. Deafness can cause major problems in communication and hinders a major sense often relied on for self-preservation.
What is Deafness? – Overview of the condition from The Open University.
Deafness and Hearing Problems – Overview information from BBC Health.
The causes of deafness include congenital causes brought on by family history or medical conditions such as otitis media, a middle ear inflammation experienced by young children. Prolonged exposure to high decibel levels can also damage sensitive organs within the ear or rupture the eardrum, causing hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss in Children – From the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Hearing Loss: Causes – From the Mayo Clinic.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss – Informational pamphlet from Harvard Medical School’s Center for Hereditary Deafness.
Hospital staff administer many tests to newborns to diagnose any possible deafness or hearing loss. Early testing is necessary to spot medical conditions early, when early treatment can help overcome some of the negative aspects of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss: Symptoms, Causes, Tests – Health guide from the New York Times.
Hearing Loss: Tests and Diagnosis – From the Mayo Clinic.
Screening Newborns – Information on infant screening tests from an online resource maintained by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Treatment options differ based on the underlying causes behind the hearing loss. Mild hearing loss may be treated with hearing aids, which increases the volume of sound entering the ears, or cochlear implants may be necessary in cases where there is profound sensorineural hearing loss.
Medical Advances for Hearing Loss Treatment – Information on treatments from the not-for-profit Better Hearing Institute.
Treating Hearing Impairment – Treatment information from England’s National Health Service.
Deafness and Hearing Impairment – Global information on treatments from the World Health Organization.
Globally, more than 278 million people experience some form of hearing loss, especially in developing countries with poorer medical infrastructures. In America, recent surveys by governmental organizations indicate that one in every 1,000 children is affected by hearing loss.
Hearing Loss in Children – Data and statistical information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hearing Loss in the Developing World – Global information from CBM International.
Individuals experiencing total deafness can overcome the communication barriers associated with this condition by learning sign language. Sign languages are specific to different countries, within each different dialects of a sign language can be found in different geographical regions.
American Sign Language – Information on ASL from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Comparison of American Sign Language – Presentation comparing ASL to other worldwide dialects from the website Deaf Education.
ASL Dictionary – Online English to ASL dictionary.
Many organizations work on outreach programs to inform unaffected populations about the social concerns behind deafness and hearing loss in individuals. Many festivities are coordinated for special deaf awareness weeks or days, while other organizations offer workshops to interested individuals who want more involvement.
Deaf Awareness for the General Public – Listing of events and workshops available through the Hearing and Speech Agency.
Deaf Awareness Fest – Annual event sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of the Deaf.
Deaf Awareness Week – From the UK Council on Deafness.
More information can be found by reviewing publications and journals dedicated to hearing health, deafness and relevant medical information. Publications range from commercial magazines with an interest in hearing loss to medical journals used to disseminate research in hearing loss.
Leading National Publications for Deaf People – Listing of different publications from Galludet University’s National Deaf Education Center.
BHI: Publications – Information on publications released by the Better Hearing Institute.
American Deaf Culture – Bibliography of books, DVDs and conference proceedings related to deafness in America.