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Hearing Impairments and Disorders

Hearing Impairments and Disorders refer to some kind of hearing loss caused by malfunctions in structures or functions that transmit sound waves (i.e., the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, the cochlear nerve). Hearing Impairments and Disorders can be mild, moderate, severe or profound measured by decibels (dB) scale, which is the unit of expressing sound level. The larger the number of dB is, the more difficult it is to hear. 'Deaf' people refer to people with profound hearing loss, who are unable to hear the sound with 100dB or above. People with 'hard of hearing' refers to people with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss. The hearing loss may be by congenital or acquired. In addition, some people experience of sudden deafness/hearing loss, or psychogenic hearing loss which is not caused by malfunctions.


The ear structure mainly consists of the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, the vestibular nerve and the cochlear nerve. There are three types of hearing loss; conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are mechanical problems in the outer ear and/or the middle ear. People with conductive hearing loss have something wrong with the bones or ear drum which transmit sound waves, so they can hear loud sounds. Therefore, hearing aids, which make sounds louder, is helpful to their daily lives. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there are sensory problems in the inner ear, the vestibular nerve and/or the cochlear nerve. People with sensorineural hearing loss are unable to hear clearly even when sound level is loud enough. The difficulties can be reduced by the hearing aids, which amplify sound or are tuned to correct impaired hearing. Age-related hearing loss is caused by the problems in the inner ear, the vestibular nerve and/or the cochlear nerve. That is, most of presbycusis is sensorineural hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.


Described above, the situation of hearing loss is various. In addition, social environment affects the difficulty. For example, it is difficult to hear in lecture in a lecture hall, or in seminar because many people talk. It is important to understand each situation and to consider better ways of academic support.


The Office for Students with Disabilities has provided Real-time captioning (by handwriting or PC), Note-taking Assistance, Sign Language Interpretation, Captioning on audio-visual materials, Loan of wireless hearing aids (FM systems).

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