According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 36 million adult Americans or 17% suffer some type of hearing loss. Statistics for deafness and hearing loss increase with age with more elderly experiencing the condition the young children. More men than women experience hearing loss and statistics show that 2-3 children out of 1,000 are born deaf or have some degree of hearing loss. The greatest percentages of hearing impaired persons that comprise the deaf community are seniors that are 75-years-old and over. They account for 47% of all cases of deafness and hearing impairment. Of the children born deaf, nine out of 10 have hearing parents. The deaf community is comprised of people from all different ages, backgrounds, and cultures. There are babies that were born deaf, due to a congenital condition and seniors that have lost their hearing with age. There are many differences between deaf people and no two cases are the same.
Deaf culture is comprised of those who are deaf, hearing impaired, and the hearing world that interacts with them on a personal basis. Hearing members of deaf culture may include family members, teachers, friends, and spouses. Those that hear yet sign are often included in deaf culture as they are involved in the cultural activities that the hearing impaired participates in. Hearing impairment can be a difficult obstacle to overcome; however, it is not guarantee that someone will have an unsuccessful life.
Deaf education is extremely important, as it is the tool used to bridge the gap between the hearing world and those that are impaired. Deafness should not be treated as an illness, but rather, it is viewed more as a cultural difference. Without high quality deaf education, children born with a hearing impairment, or young children that develop hearing loss, face an extreme disadvantage. Exposing children to members of the deaf community can be a powerful way to reassure children they are not alone and their hearing loss does not isolate them from others. Sometimes, just associating with other deaf people can be the greatest therapy and healer of all. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur each year. For those people, communicating with other deaf people can be a life changing experience. Deafness and hearing loss affect more than 30 million people, indicating that the issue is one that must take priority.
Laws have been enacted to ensure the rights of the hearing impaired are protected in numerous areas of life. Hearing loss is more widespread than many believe. Statistics show that one out of four students will have some degree of hearing loss at some point during their education. As ear infections can result in both temporary and permanent hearing loss, there are many children in school that are experiencing loss. Many of these children are undiagnosed. Parents and childcare givers must remain vigilant and ensure children receive adequate screenings and hearing tests. If a child has a hearing loss, steps must be taken to ensure his or her educational needs are met.