Supporting members who are deaf or have hearing loss
What is hearing loss?
There are many young people and adults in Scouting who experience a loss of hearing. The term hearing loss describes a range of conditions from deafness to slight hearing impariments. The below gives more information into hearing loss and how to support Scouts.
Hearing loss may vary from flight or fluctuating hearing loss to total loss of hearing (deafness). There are two major types of hearing loss although sometimes both types occur together.
- The most common is conductive hearing loss that may occur through a blockage of the ear canal, damage to the eardrum, or blockage or damage to the middle ear. The condition is often intermittent and varies in severity. It usually responds well to treatment
- This kind of hearing loss is common in young children - you may have heard of ‘glue ear’ - this is a temporary loss of some elements of hearing but it, indeed any hearing loss, even if it’s temporary or mild, can have a big impact, particularly in the younger years when children are developing their speech and language skills
- The other type of hearing loss is sensory-neural hearing loss. It may arise though damage to the cochlea (inner ear), auditory nerve or to parts of the brain involved in interpreting sound. It has a number of causes such as damage before or at birth or a condition such as Cerebral Palsy or may be inherited.
Some people with hearing impairment wear a hearing aid. For some it may be an uncomfortable experience and sounds heard can be distorted and unpleasant to listen to. Hearing aids do not discriminate but amplify all the sounds in the area, and not solely the sound that the listener wishes to hear. Some people have cochlear implants – they may help hearing but sound through an implant is not as good as the quality of sound processed by a natural cochlea and therefore will not restore hearing to normal levels.
Hearing loss can lead to:
- Difficulties in hearing speech on one side and locating the source of sound
- Missing key information
- Tiredness, concentration fatigue, frustration and a shorter attention span
- Difficulties participating in group discussions and activities
- Social interaction difficulties
- Speech, language and literacy difficulties e.g. unclear speech or difficulties understanding.
Young people with a mild hearing loss, unlike adults, may not be able to filter out background noise. They may also lack the knowledge, vocabulary and context to be able to work out what has been said if they mishear. There is no reason why young people and adults who are deaf and those with hearing loss can not participate in all parts of the Scouting programme with some reasonable adjustments and support.