Glossary of Hearing Loss Related Terms
Provided here is a list of terms and definitions that you may hear in dealing with your child's hearing loss.
Acoustic Reflex - The temporary contraction of the middle ear muscles in response to a loud sound.
Acoustics - The study of how sound reacts to the environment. This includes the concepts of loudness, pitch, resonance and reverberation.
Acquired Hearing Loss - Hearing loss which occurs after birth.
Air Conduction - Sounds heard through the air, which pass tough all three parts of the ear.
American Sign Language (ASL) - A visual-gestural language used by the majority of Deaf individuals in the United States.
Americans with Disabilities Act - Signed into law in 1990, this is the "civil rights act" for the disabled. The ADA requires public services and buildings to make reasonable accommodations to allow access to persons with disabilities.
Aminoglycosides - A group of antibiotics which are known to cause hearing and balance loss. They include Amikacin, Gentamicin, Kanamycin, Neomycin, Netilmicin, Streptomycin, Tobramycin and a host of others not as commonly used.
APGAR - A rating scale used to assess the overall health of a child at birth. The scale is taken twice and averaged. Low APGAR scores place a child at increased risk for hearing loss and other health problems.
Assistive Listening System - A system that improves hearing in noisy situations by placing a microphone very close to the speaker's mouth. The signal is sent to a receiver connected to the listener's hearing instruments. Types include hard wire, FM and Infrared.
Audiogram - A graph of hearing sensitivity. Frequency is plotted from left to right (bass to treble). Hearing Level is plotted from top to bottom (soft to loud).
Audiometer - A machine used by an audiologist to measure hearing.
Audition - The act of hearing sounds.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) - A special hearing test that measures nerve impulses in the hearing nerve and brainstem. Types of ABR testing include click, tone burst and bone conduction.
Auditory Deprivation - The concept that ears with hearing loss will "forget" how to process sound if they are not stimulated using hearing instruments or cochlear implants.
Auditory Nerve - A portion of the eighth cranial nerve that carries nerve impulses from the inner ear (cochlea) to the brain.
Auditory Trainer - An older term for Assistive Listening Systems used in schools or during speech or listening therapy.
Auditory Verbal Approach - A communication method emphasizing maximizing residual hearing to teach the child to hear and speak.
Battery - The power supply of a hearing instrument.
Behavior Modification - A program of applying and withholding rewards to change unacceptable behavior, while reinforcing acceptable behavior.
Behavioral Audiometry- Measuring hearing by observing the child's responses, or behavior, in response to test signals.
Bone Conduction- Hearing measured by sending signals through the bone, bypassing the outer and middle ear.
Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response - see ABR
B.T.E. - A hearing instrument worn behind the ear. It is connected to an earmold, which fits into the ear.
Central Auditory Processing Disorder - A weakness, or developmental delay in understanding, sequencing and remembering what is heard.
Chronological Age - The child's actual age from birth.
Clear Speech - A method of speaking clearly and distinctly to aid in communicating with a person using a hearing instrument.
Cochlea - The inner ear organ that converts sound vibrations to nerve impulses.
Cochlear Implant - A surgically implanted device that converts sounds into electrical signals delivered to the auditory nerve.
Conductive Hearing Loss - Hearing loss resulting from a blockage of the outer ear or reduced movement of the inner ear.
Congenital Hearing Loss - Hearing loss which is present at or shortly after birth.
Continuous Flow Adapter (CFA) - A special earmold tubing which precisely controls the acoustic characteristics of the earmold.
CT Scan - A special, very detailed X-ray used to determine of a child's cochlea is open, or filled with bone.
Cued Speech - A communication method using 8 handshapes in 4 positions to make the sounds of speech visible.
D/deaf - A concept signifying the cultural identity many Deaf people feel. Those using sign language and feeling alliance to the Deaf community will use a capital 'D' when describing themselves. Those who see deafness simply as a description of hearing ability will use a lowercase 'd' to describe themselves.
Deaf Community - The group of hearing and Deaf people who use and promote Sign Language and who have common goals and values.
Deaf Culture - The culture of the Deaf, based on Sign Language and a common heritage.
Decibel - The unit used when measuring sound intensity. Usually abbreviated as dB.
Developmental Age - The age of a child corrected to indicate their function in language, motor skills, and intelligence, as compared to other children.
Disability - The currently accepted term for a person with reduced function of some sense or mental process. Replaces the term handicap.
Due Process - The process available to parents who wish to challenge the proposed plan of the Committee on Special Education.
Ear - The organ of hearing.
Eardrum - A thin membrane between the outer and middle ear which vibrates in response to sound waves in the air.
Earmold - The custom molded component of a BTE hearing instrument which delivers amplified sounds into the ear.
Eustachian Tube - The tube connecting the middle ear to the back of the nose which controls air pressure behind the eardrum.
Feedback - The whistle that comes from an improperly fitted earmold or malfunctioning hearing instrument.
FM System - One type of Assistive Listening System that uses FM radio waves to carry the speaker's voice to the listener.
Frequency - An acoustic property of sound related to the pitch of a sound.
Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins - The first American educator to support the use of Sign Language to educate Deaf children.
Gallaudet University- The only liberal arts university in the world for the Deaf, located in Washington, D.C. Gallaudet is considered to be the center of the American Deaf Community.
Gestational Age- A child's age calculated to correct for premature birth.
Gestural Language - Languages which use specific, agreed upon gestures to communicate. They are complete languages with grammar and syntax.
Gesture - A movement of the arm, hand, body or face to convey meaning.
Handicap- An older term which has been replace by the term Disability.
Hard of Hearing - The currently accepted term to describe those with mild to severe hearing loss.
Hearing Aid - An electronic device used to amplify sounds.
Hearing Handicap Inventory - A measure of the impact of a hearing loss.
Hearing Impaired - An older term for describing a person with hearing loss. Many people consider this term to be negative because it emphasizes the impairment, rather than the person. Deaf / hard of hearing (DHH) is considered the appropriate term by most in the community.
Hearing Instrument - Another term for hearing aid.
Hearing Loss - A reduction in sensitivity, discrimination or processing of environmental sounds and speech.
Hearing - The sense of gaining information using the ear. Also used to describe people with normal hearing.
Hertz - The unit for measuring frequency.
Hyperacousis - An abnormal sensitivity of loudness in a person with normal hearing sensitivity.
I.D.E.A. - The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (formerly PL 94-142). The American law guaranteeing a free and appropriate public education for disabled students.
I.E.P. - Individualized Education Plan. A key component of the I.D.E.A. The I.E.P. is developed by the parents and the Committee on Special Education.
I.T.E. - A hearing instrument which is custom molded to fit entirely within the ear.
Inclusion - An educational philosophy promoting the mixing of students with disabilities into the general student population. It is assumed that appropriate support services will be provided in these inclusive placements.
Independent Living - A movement in the United States promoting independence for people with disabilities through reasonable public accommodation.
Induction Loop - A loop of wire that emits an electromagnetic signal that can be picked up by a hearing instrument's telecoil. Used in meeting rooms, homes and automobiles.
Itinerant services - Educational and rehabilitative services provided on a periodic basis by a consulting professional.
Lombard Effect - The tendency for a person with normal hearing to raise their voice in response to increasing background noise.
Loudness Perception - How the brain interprets the intensity of sounds.
M.R.I. - Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A very detailed x-ray that looks at soft tissues like nerves.
Mainstream - An educational placement in which a Deaf or hard of hearing child is enrolled in a local school and receives support services within a classroom with hearing students.
Malingering- Fabricating or exaggerating an ailment.
Maternal - Of or pertaining to the mother.
Meningitis - An inflammation of the spinal fluid. It causes very high fevers which can destroy the cochlea, causing permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
Middle Ear - The air-filled space inside the eardrum containing the ossicles (ear bones) and the Eustachian Tube.
Mild Hearing Loss - Hearing loss averaging not more than 40 dB.
Mixed Hearing Loss - A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Moderate Hearing Loss - Hearing loss form 40 to 70 dB.
Neonatal - Events occurring within a few weeks of birth.
Nerve Deafness - Older term for sensorineural hearing loss.
Ossicles - 3 bones of the middle ear. Malleus (hammer), Incus (anvil) and Stapes (stirrup)
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) - Tiny sounds created in the inner ear in response to a stimulus.
Otoplasty - Surgical reconstruction or re-shaping of the pinna (outer ear).
Otosclerosis - A disease in which spongy bone grows around the stapes, limiting movement, and causing progressive, conductive hearing loss.
Ototoxic - Medications which cause damage to the nerve structures of the inner ear.
Paternal - Of or pertaining to the father
Perilymph - The fluid of the inner ear.
Perinatal - The first few hours of life.
Pinna - The outer ear that funnels sound into the ear canal.
Pitch - The perception of frequency (i.e. bass or treble).
Postauricular - Behind the ear.
Prenatal - Events occurring prior to birth.
Profound Hearing Loss - Hearing loss greater than 90 dB.
Psychological Evaluation - A series of tests to determine I.Q., personality and learning potential.
Real Ear Measurement - A measurement of the resonance of the ear canal, and the output of a hearing instrument while it is in the ear. Also known as Probe Microphone Measurement.
Recruitment - The abnormal perception of loudness growth. This affects all sounds louder than a person's thresholds of hearing.
Rehabilitation - Re-learning a skill or ability lost to injury or illness.
Resource Room - One-on-one time for children with disabilities which is outlined in the I.E.P.
Role Model - One who is like us that we emulate and strive to be like.
Self-Contained Class - An educational placement within a public school where all students have a similar disability or functional level.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss - Hearing loss involving damage or malformation of the inner ear or auditory nerve.
Sign Language - A visual-gestural language used by deaf and hard of hearing people, their friends and families.
Speech Spectrum - The range of frequency and amplitude (pitch and loudness) of average conversational speech. Also known as the "speech banana."
Speechreading - A communication method which correlates mouth and facial movements to spoken words.
Stethoclip - A tool used by parents and teachers to listen to a child's hearing instrument.
Transpositional Aids - Hearing aids which convert inaudible high frequency sounds to lower frequencies where there is still usable hearing.
Aid - A device which converts sounds into vibrations which are felt using
vibrators worn on the wrist or around the chest.
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