Hearing Impaired

Introduction to Hearing Impairment

Hearing Impaired

Hearing Impaired

My deafness was “acquired” in my twenties I had already developed my language (Dutch, English, German) so for me having already acquired my language for cognition and speech coping with becoming deaf was something less of a burden than those who are born into silence. Our son Nicholas was born profoundly deaf, and worse, his biological mother was not in a position to help him develop properly. Then to compound matters he was left in near isolation for the first 16 months of his life, it was nearly disastrous for him because he had no internal language  on which to build cognitive thought, in other words his problems were on wholly different scale of magnitude. So while we are both profoundly deaf we come from almost polar opposites of experience and it shows that you cannot  just consider deafness to be a single term.  Based on this background I now frame my words.

I am going to try and keep this section fairly informal, with short pages so that you the visitor can dip in and out easily so that you can sample our world.

Acquired Deafness

If, like me, you do not become totally deaf until after you’ve acquired language, your problems are some what more manageable. You think in whatever spoken language you’ve learned, Dutch in my case. If you are still in education when you loose your hearing then given some commonsense accommodation during school/university, you will progress intellectually on a par with any hearing person. In fact in some small ways it can be an advantage, though they are usually far outweighed by the inherent disadvantages. I would always urge anyone with acquired deafness to learn to sign, it is so valuable to link you to others and believe me you will need to take very opportunity you can grasp to link you to the human race that you can seize. One thing I have noticed in the last few years is that I am thinking less in Dutch and much more in Sign.

Congenital/Hereditary Deafness

Can we think without language? The short answer is no, at least not at the level of cognition that we humans are accustomed to and this is why Congenital/Hereditary deafness can have far serious consequences. In fact it can be more serious than blindness in the development of the intellect. Being blind is undoubtedly hard, I know this from personal experience,  but even those sightless from birth acquire language by ear without difficulty as they grow up. A congenitally deaf child is not so fortunate because unless a parent, medical worker, teacher etc realizes very early on that she/ he’s not developing language because she/he cannot hear then their grasp of communication in any form may never progress beyond a rudimentary level, this is why one of the very first checks a midwife makes after the birth of a baby is on their hearing.

About one child per twelve hundred in Western Europe is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. The vital age range for language acquisition is 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language with ease (remarkable ease as it happens), and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure in their brains. Beyond this age it is far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they will face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, though this does not mean that their intelligence is not normal.

Three Dutch people talk about their acquired deafness, even if you do not speak Dutch please watch it.

Learn about: Sign Language & Lip reading.

Learn about: Hearing Dogs.

Want to read about life as a deaf person ? Read “A Deaf Adult Speaks Out” by Leo M Jacobs.

Deaf in Holland

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