Hearing Impairment

An individual’s hearing sensitivity is measured by the quietest sound that the person can detect – this is known as the hearing threshold. A behavioral audiogram can be used to accurately measure that threshold in humans (and in some animals). This process involves recording the quietest sound that elicits a response from the listener, on a consistent basis. Different frequencies are used for these sounds while recording the responses. Another hearing test involves electro-physiological responses that don’t require behavioral responses.

With regards to various animal species, normal hearing thresholds are not the same for every frequency. When sounds are played at different frequencies, and at the same amplitude, some of those sounds will heard as a loud noise, some will be perceived as quiet and some will hardly be recognized at all. However, for those frequencies that are barely perceived, increasing the amplitude will make them more audible. In general, the frequencies that are used for communication within the species (as in “speech” – for humans) are the most audible for that species. This fine tuning of hearing will appear at many different levels of the auditory system. This will also include the ear’s physical characteristics and the nerves and tracts of the auditory system which will convey impulses to the portion of the brain that decodes them.

When an individual is unable to exhibit sensitivity to sounds that are normally perceived by its kind – that individual is described as being hearing impaired. For humans, this term normally refers to those who are insensitive to sounds in the frequencies that speech is heard. The severity of this condition is measured in terms of how much louder (increased amplitude) the sound must be, before the sound is recognized. In cases of profound deafness, no level of sound amplitude will be heard.

The quality of a sound, as opposed to its amplitude, is another characteristic of hearing. For humans, this is measured by “speech discrimination” tests. These tests will require that the subject not only hears the sound, but understands it, as well. There are some very rare forms of hearing disorders that will only affect this aspect of hearing.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

Hearing Impairment can sometimes interfere with a productive lifestyle. For further information, contact Social Security disability lawyer Gerard Lynch, regarding SSI/SSD claims in Galveston and other Texas cities.

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