The impact of deafness on language, communication and learning is multi-faceted and is very individual.  However, it is possible to identify the following as influencing the language and communication used as well as the impact on learning styles:

  • age of onset – when did the deafness occur (at birth or in early life or later) [see more],
  • degree of deafness – how severe is it [see more],
  • the primary language the student uses – Auslan [see more] or English,
  • how the student communicates – Auslan or “oral” communication [see more],
  • the student’s educational experience to date

Understanding the impact of deafness

Regardless of when the deafness occurred, some important things to understand about deafness include:

  • deafness is invisible – it cannot be seen,
  • deafness impedes access to information and communication,
  • awareness about a subject may be disjointed – at least some of the time deaf people can miss crucial information (early life deafness can result in significant barriers, especially when undertaking a course of study)

If the deafness is significant and has occurred at birth or in early life, it is important to understand that

  • nearly everything will need to be consciously taught – not only English literacy, but also about other aspects of the world around them (for example, some things make noise while others do not),
  • for some, developing native-like fluency in English can be a significant challenge [see more]

As noted, the impact(s) of deafness are very individual as the deafness can vary significantly not only in relation to the degree of hearing loss but also the frequencies that are affected.  To help you to understand this better, click here to listen to examples of what a person may hear at various degrees of hearing loss and click here a simulation of what a person with a cochlear implant may hear.