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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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toddler in wheelchairWhat is an auditory impairment?

There are three types of auditory impairments; each is a separate special education category:

  1. Deafness
  2. Hearing Impairment
  3. Deaf-blindness

Learn more about each one below.

DEAFNESS means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in understanding speech.

HEARING IMPAIRMENT means an impairment in hearing, that affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

DEAF-BLINDNESS means a combination of hearing and visual impairments which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

The most common cause of hearing loss in children is an infection of the middle ear called otitis media. Another large group of children acquired their hearing loss due to factors such as noise, drugs and toxins. Some acquired hearing loss is a result of heredity.

Each state defines the degree of hearing loss which determines a student's eligibility for special education services. Deafness is usually defined as a hearing loss of 70 decibels or greater in the better ear. Hard of Hearing is defined as a hearing loss of 35-60 decibel in the better ear. In addition, to be eligible for special education services, the hearing loss must affect the student's educational performance.

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