Hearing Link

What hearing loss sounds like

Woman lipreading

Very few people who have a hearing loss hear nothing at all. Many people who are hard of hearing or deaf hear some sounds. What varies from person to person, is how much they hear. It is confusing for both deaf and hearing people.

The deaf person thinks they have heard what the hearing person said and answers accordingly. If the deaf person misheard, their answers make no sense to the hearing person and both become increasingly frustrated as the conversation goes on. More on communication.

Sounds of hearing loss

Here are a number of sound files which you can play to get an impression of what it is like to suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus. By clicking on the sound files, people with normal hearing can get an impression of how music sounds for a hearing-impaired person. Visit the Hear-it website.

Conductive and sensorineural hearing loss

A conductive hearing loss makes everything sound the same, just much quieter whereas sensorineural deafness causes speech to sound quieter and distorted. Consonant sounds are high frequency sounds whereas vowels are low frequency.

To a hearing person sound is loud and clear in all areas of the speech spectrum, it would sound like this:

Clear speech helps lipreading

Someone with presbyacusis (old age deafness) would hear the vowels in speech but not the consonants, so speech might sound like this:

(missing consonants) __EA_ __EE__ _E___ _I__EA__I_ _.

To someone with Ménière’s Disease where the low frequency sounds are affected, the person would not hear the vowels, it might sound like this:

(missing vowels) cl__r sp__ch h_lps l_pr__d_ng

To someone with a perforated eardrum with a conductive hearing loss the volume of speech is affected rather than the clarity, it might sound like this:

(lower volume) clear speech helps lipreading


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