Deaf Awareness Week

Acquired Deafness

4th to 10th May 2020

This week is Deaf Awareness Week, organised by the UK Council on Deafness, to raise people’s awareness of the needs of deaf or hard of hearing people. They also aim to promote the positive aspects of deafness and promote social inclusion. The theme for this year is acquired deafness, which is the loss of hearing that occurs or develops during a person’s life.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 5% of the world’s population, 466 million people, have hearing loss. 34 million of these are children. According to the National Deaf Children’s Society, there are more than 50,000 young people who are deaf or have hearing problems in the UK today.

Are You Deaf Aware?

11 million people in the UK are deaf or has some form of hearing loss. 1 in 6 people face communication challenges that can have a significant impact on their daily lives. Deaf people have two main ways of communicating with others, lip reading and sign language. Action on Hearing Loss suggests that “if you meet someone who is deaf or has hearing loss, ask them what you can do to make communication easier – don’t feel shy.”

Talking to People Who Lipread

A person who is deaf or has hearing loss may lipread to better understand what someone is saying. Using lip shapes, gestures and facial movements to follow the conversation. If you are talking to someone who is deaf or has hearing loss follow the guidance from the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Speak Clearly

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start speaking.
  • Face the person while you are speaking, don’t turn away.
  • Speak clearly without shouting.
  • Don’t speak too quickly or too slowly.
  • Keep your mouth visible. 
  • Repeat yourself if necessary.
  • If the person doesn’t understand you, don’t give up!
  • Write it down or draw a picture.
  • Speak one at a time, don’t talk over each other. 
  • Smile and relax.

Impact of Deafness

It can be difficult for people without loss of hearing to understand the experiences of people who are deaf. People who are deaf or have some form of hearing loss may feel frustrated, isolated or lonely. Our colleague James Cresswell has produced a video to try and demonstrate a small part of what a person who is deaf may experience. James is using British Sign Language in the video and asks those of us who cannot communicate using sign language to imagine how we would feel if the video had no subtitles.

What if this video had no subtitles?

Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable.

WHO – March 2020

There are many causes of acquired hearing loss. These include infectious diseases, ear infections, foreign bodies blocking the ear canal, an injury to the head or ear and ageing. Loud noise is one of the biggest causes of permanent hearing loss.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, 85 decibels (dB), the sound level of a food blender for example, “is the threshold level at which your hearing can become damaged over time”. Listening to music that is too loud can cause permanent hearing loss. Their tips for listening to music safely include:

  • When listening through headphones
    • take regular breaks
    • use the volume limiter on your device
  • At gigs, clubs and festivals
    • don’t stand too close to speakers
    • take regular breaks from the loudest areas

Library Resources Include:

  • La Famille Belier – a young woman with deaf parents discovers she has an amazing singing voice.
  • Jenseits der Stille (Beyond Silence) – a clarinettist leaves her deaf parents and small German village for the first time to study music in Berlin.