Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

The term ‘hearing impairment’ describes a loss of hearing which may range from mild loss (hard of hearing) to complete deafness. Hearing loss is measured in decibels hearing level (dBHL). A person who can hear sounds across a range of frequencies at 0 to 20dB is considered to have normal hearing. The thresholds for the different types of hearing loss are as follows:

  • Mild 25 – 39 dBHL
  • Moderate 40 – 69 dBHL
  • Severe 70 – 94 dBHL

Profoundly Deaf people, who cannot hear sounds quieter than 95dB, often communicate using sign language and lip reading. Some Deaf people use cochlear implants or hearing aids, which allows for some oral communication. Some Deaf individuals identify themselves as members of an Irish linguistic and cultural minority and not as individuals with a disability.

Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the principal form of communication for Deaf people in Ireland and is usually regarded as a Deaf person’s first language. Sign language arose from within Deaf communities and was developed by Deaf people themselves. It is NOT an artificial tool devised by hearing people, or an incomplete form of English on the hands – it is a full and complete language.

People who can hear develop their general knowledge through reading newspapers, listening to the TV or radio and talking with friends and family. Deaf and hard of hearing people often miss out on this general knowledge and life experience. The knock-on effect may be reflected in their written work and they may have problems with sequencing, grammar or the overall structure of their writing.