Understanding Deafness and the Value of Adaptive Web Design
Hearing loss worsens with age, affecting one in three adults 65 to 74 years old. Meanwhile, half of those over 75 say they have difficulty hearing.
Deafness has various levels and types. Let's take a look at them in detail.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Taking a medical hearing test or audiogram helps people discover the level of their hearing loss. The examination will determine the range of decibels—which measures loudness—they can hear. Normal hearing can detect sounds measuring zero to 20 decibels.
Mild (21 to 40 dB)
People with mild hearing loss can follow one-on-one conversations but can have difficulty catching every word when their surroundings are noisy. They may miss softer consonant sounds and sounds from soft-spoken people.
Moderate (41 to 55 dB)
Those with moderate hearing loss may not be able to pick up both consonant and vowel sounds. As a result, it’s hard for them to follow normal conversations without the help of a hearing aid or ear implants.
Severe (71 to 90 dB; moderately severe 56 to 70 dB)
People with moderate to severe hearing loss may not be able to understand normal speech even with hearing aids. Cochlear implants may be necessary.
Those with profound hearing loss cannot hear sounds softer than 90 to 120 dB. Cochlear implants may still work. Some people may even opt to use sign language as they are unable to hear loud sounds from fire alarms and airplane engines.
Types of Deafness and Hearing Loss
Besides indicating your level of hearing loss, audiogram results describe the nature of your deafness or hearing difficulty:
- Unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both ears)
- Low frequency or high frequency
- Symmetrical (same nature of hearing loss on both ears) or asymmetrical (different on each ear)
- Sudden (in an instant) or progressive (worsening over time)
- Stable (stays the same) or fluctuating (changes within the day or from day to day)
U.S. Laws Protecting Deaf People
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the primary law that protects the deaf and hard of hearing rights to access communication and telecommunication services, healthcare, employment, and housing, among others. Accessibility doesn't only cover physical establishments—it also covers websites that represent public and private institutions online. The law requires entities to ensure that auxiliary aids are available to ensure that those with disabilities aren’t discriminated against or denied service. Auxiliary aids for the deaf and those with hearing loss include transcription and captioning or videotext displays for audio-visual elements on webpages.
Meanwhile, the Rehabilitation Act governing federal agencies says the public can sue government bodies and those receiving federal funding if they don't include such auxiliary aids for electronic media and IT programs.
Also, Federal Communications Commission rules mandate that excerpts of full-length videos first shown on TV programs should have captions when posted online.
Optimize Your Website for the Deaf and Those with Hearing Loss
ADA Web Accessibility specializes in web development and design that caters to people with disabilities. We have the technology and know-how to make your web pages more user-friendly through captions and transcripts. Contact us today to widen your reach among hearing-challenged online consumers.
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