This paper is concerned with visual and hearing impairments. The influence of such impairments on a person’s development and academic achievements is considered; legal and educational definitions of these impairments are given; and, finally, their types, degrees, and causes are discussed. The study is based on a review of scholarly literature (books and articles). It provides a short general overview; a more detailed study is recommended for those interested in the topic.
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Visual and Hearing Impairments: Definitions, Impact, Types, Degrees, and Causes
People who have visual or hearing impairments suffer from a large number of additional problems; there is an effect on many aspects of a person’s life. In this paper, we will examine the influence of these impairments on personal development and academic life, discuss the educational and legal definitions of such disabilities, and consider their types, degrees, and causes.
Both visual and hearing impairments influence a person’s development and academic life. A blind person is limited to their other senses; the input of the latter is intermittent. Such people have to develop hand-ear coordination. Their construct of reality is different from that of non-blind people, and they have more trouble with operating abstract notions. They need much special instruction to enable them to learn; however, they still might get high academic achievements (Farrell, 2012).
The deaf has trouble communicating with others; they need to learn sign language and speech reading, which is a severe difficulty for young children. Their vocabulary is limited. They often experience additional psychological and social problems. Students with hearing impairments have additional requirements, such as visual accompaniment; they also may need additional motivation (Farrell, 2012).
Visual impairment means low or no ability to see. It varies in degree. Legally, “a visual acuity of between 3/60 and 6/60” is considered to be partial sight (Roe & Webster, 2003, p. 26). Educationally, “partial sight” is the ability to see that is sufficient to complete educational assignments, but causes difficulties if no modifications are made in teaching means. Further, a blind person cannot perform any tasks which require sight. Educationally, such people need non-visual means to study. Legally, blindness is “visual acuity of 3/60 or less… after correction” (Roe & Webster, 2003, p. 25).
Hearing loss might vary from slightly lowered hearing acuity to inability to hear loud sounds, to complete deafness. Legally, hearing impairment is a full or partial inability to hear and comprehend sounds. Educationally, people who are unable to complete their curriculum without additional means suffer from severe hearing impairment or hearing loss, whereas those who can do it even while experiencing difficulties are mildly or moderately impaired (Dobie, 2015).
Visual impairments differ in types, e.g. color blindness or reduced acuity. Reduced acuity can vary from mild vision loss (near-normal vision) to no light perception (total blindness). The impairments are most often caused by cataract and refractive errors; other causes include glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, trachoma, corneal opacification, diabetic retinopathy, severe injury. In some cases, the cause is undetermined (Congdon, Friedman, & Lietman, 2003).
There are several degrees of hearing loss: mild, mild-to-moderate, moderate-to-severe, and deafness. Three main types of hearing impairment exist: conductive (sound is not conducted to the middle ear effectively), sensorineural (inner ear or neural paths to the brain are damaged), and mixed (these two types combined) hearing loss. Hearing loss might be caused by the improper formation of the hearing organs, impacted earwax, damage to the inner ear, disease, ruptured eardrum, allergies, otosclerosis, etc. (Kumar, Rout, Kumari, & Dey, 2012).
As can be seen, visual or hearing impairments have a large influence on a person’s development and academic achievements; this influence depends on their degree. They also are of various types and might be caused by different factors.
Congdon, N. G., Friedman, D. S., & Lietman, T. (2003). Important causes of visual impairment in the world today. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(15), 2057-2060.
Dobie, R. A. (2015). Medical-legal evaluation of hearing loss (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.
Farrell, M. (2012). Educating special children: An introduction to provision for pupils with disabilities and disorders (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Kumar, S., Rout, N., Kumari, P., & Dey, B. (2012). The conceptions of hearing impairment, causes and its management: A train survey. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 76(8), 1123-1126. Web.
Roe, J., & Webster, A. (2003). Children with visual impairments: Social interaction, language and learning [Google Books version]. Web.