Deafness is not included under the hearing impairment category under the IDEA.
A complete inability to hear, is categorized as deafness. The National Association of the Deaf generally uses hard of hearing rather than hearing impairment.
Hard of hearing is defined having some hearing, the ability to use it for communication purposes, and ability to comfortably communicate with this level of hearing. A hard of hearing person may have a mild to moderate hearing loss.
Hearing impairments can be caused by:
- heredity - Genetic links have been found in the Human Genome Mapping Project;
- severe illness in childhood such as rubella (German measles) or spinal meningitis;
- prenatal maternal illnesses;
- Exposure to long-term loud noise or exposure to sudden extreme noise;
- preventable prenatal substance abuse;
- physical injury or damage to the brain, the head, or the ear;
- age-related hearing loss.
Learn about the various degrees of hearing impairment and what they involve.