What Does Hearing Loss Sound Like?

By: David Titmus
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Partial or total hearing loss can occur at birth, in old age. It can happen suddenly because of an accident or degeneratively, as the hair cells in the inner ear fall out. But what does that process sound like? Does a hard of hearing individual lose certain sounds, or are volume ranges affected?

Shanna Groves, author of Lip Reader, a novel about a family dealing with hearing loss described:

The first part of my hearing that disappeared was with high-frequency pitches — birds singing, kids screaming, phones ringing, and all soft consonant sounds (f, s, t, v). Gone. Permanently. I am deaf to these noises.

The inability to hear high-frequency pitches affects all of my conversations with you.

You: “Is the baby sleeping?”
What I hear: “Ha! Baby leaping.”

You: “What time is it?”
What I hear: “Whoa, I’m in.”

One way to simulate hearing loss is by a simulator, which are easy to find online. While these simulations are not perfect, they give an idea of the level of exclusion a person with degrees of hearing loss face. The links below are to some of these simulations. Try them, and leave your reaction on the comments page!

Hearing Center Online

Phonak

Hear the World

House Research Institute

by Carlin Twedt