Hearing loss and impairment

How we can help people with hearing loss and impairments

Hearing impairment (also known as hearing loss) is the inability to hear sounds properly or to not hear sound at all. Hearing impairments can be congenital (present from birth) or acquired later in life. Hearing impairments can range from mild to severe and affect an individual’s ability to communicate effectively, in both their receptive (understanding) and expressive (verbal) communication.

Speech and language therapy will help to improve and support an individual’s communication. In more severe cases of hearing impairment the speech and language therapist may introduce alternative forms of communication.

What is hearing impairment?

Hearing impairment is the inability to hear sounds properly or not hear sound at all. There are two main types of hearing impairment which include:

Conductive hearing loss or impairment

Conductive hearing impairment is any disruption to the transmission of sound from the inner to the outer ear. This can involve the inner, middle and outer ear structures. Conductive hearing impairment can be either temporary or permanent.

Sensorineural hearing loss or impairment

Sensorineural hearing impairment is any damage to the inner ear; this causes disruption to the pathway where the sound impulses are converted into nerve signals. Sensorineural hearing impairment most commonly occurs from birth, it can however be acquired later on in life.

Hearing impairment can result in a variety of communication difficulties. A hearing impairment can affect an individual’s receptive (understanding) and expressive (verbal) language and also their ability to produce speech sounds correctly.

There are many different causes of hearing impairment. Common causes of hearing impairment include:

  • Exposure to sudden loud noise.
  • Common cold or allergies.
  • Ear infection.
  • Medication.
  • Head trauma or trauma to the ear drum.
  • Genetic conditions.
  • Disease or infections.

What problems caused by hearing impairment can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy will help with the comprehension, attention and listening, communication, language and speech sound problems, which can be a result of a hearing loss or impairment.

The speech and language therapist will provide an individualised therapy programme which will be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the individual with the hearing impairment.

How does speech and language therapy help hearing impairment?

Speech and language therapy helps individuals with hearing impairment to communicate more effectively. SLT UK will provide an initial assessment to determine the type and severity of the communication problems caused by the hearing impairment. An initial assessment will also help the therapist in deciding what the best treatment will be for the individual. The speech and language therapist will provide treatment, advice and support in helping to maximise an individual’s communication.

Speech and language therapy is highly beneficial for those with a hearing loss or impairment. Speech and language therapy can improve an individual's communication in order to reduce and anxiety and increase confidence. In doing so, this may provide more social and work opportunities for the individual as communication strategies continue to develop.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for hearing impairment involve?

Speech and language therapy will include an initial assessment which will help to determine the severity of an individual’s speech, language and communication problems. An initial assessment will also help to decide on what the best treatment programme will be. Treatment will be specific to the individual’s needs and abilities. Treatment may focus on:

  • Expressive communication.
  • Receptive communication.
  • Production of speech sounds.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Speech and language therapy treatment may also include assessments, reports, reviews, therapy programmes, training courses, support groups, advice and education.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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