Ask An Audiologist: Can Hearing Aids Help People Who Are Deaf?
You might be surprised to learn that hearing aids can indeed help deaf people better understand the world around them.
Hearing aids help those with hearing loss by making sounds louder so they are audible and clear. But what about those who are considered deaf? We proverbially use the word deaf to describe an individual who “can’t hear anything”. Audiometrically speaking, most deaf individuals have what are categorized as severe to profound or profound hearing loss. Usually they have some residual hearing, typically in the lower frequencies, allowing them to hear sounds such as drums and bass in loud music. Oftentimes, they experience these very low and very loud sounds almost as a vibration.
How hearing aids can help deaf individuals
For those who have milder hearing loss, their primary goal for using hearing aids is to help them understand speech. But for individuals with more profound hearing loss, hearing aids alone are not sufficient. Hearing aids can help them hear more sound, but how much their brain is able make use of these sounds for speech understanding varies.
Some deaf individuals are very adept at taking advantage of amplified speech sounds. When combined with expert speech-reading skills, auditory cues can help them gain excellent understanding of speech. An example of cues can be looking at facial expressions, body language, and other contextual signs. Oftentimes, these individuals have had intensive auditory training with hearing aids.
For many others, they wear hearing aids to have higher environmental awareness of the world around them. These devices alerts them to sounds such as oncoming traffic or someone outside of their field of vision calling for their attention.
Hearing aids for those with more hearing loss
Hearing aids for the deaf need to be more than just powerful. With different goals, hearing aid manufacturers and hearing care professionals dedicate unique fitting strategies for their patients with severe to profound hearing loss. For example, the majority of hearing aid wearers like to have background noise suppressed while only amplifying speech sounds. But deaf individuals often want to hear everything they possibly can, regardless of background noise or speech. As a result, directional microphones and advanced noise suppression features are often deactivated for deaf patients.
More often than not, patients with severe to profound hearing loss are very experienced hearing aid wearers, many of whom have used amplification most of their lives. They know exactly how they like to hear in each situation, and as a result, have greater appreciation for the ability to control their hearing aids in various listening situations. In comparison, many patients with milder losses do not want to be seen fiddling with their hearing aid controls, but prefer fully automatic hearing aids that adapt to their changing listening environments without any user intervention.
Signia offers a wide range of hearing aids suitable for patients with any degree of hearing loss. To see which types may be appropriate for you or your loved one, check out our product portfolio. If you feel that you are having problems with your hearing and would like to find out more, you can use our handy Store Locator to find your nearest hearing care professional!