Alexander and Lily

Alexander and Lily

Monday, February 13, 2012

With a Hearing Aid, a Hearing-Impaired Child Can Hear as Well as You - False!

I found this article on I love how it illustrates hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. I was first introduced to this illustration when we visited The Moog Center for Deaf Education in St. Louis this summer. It's funny because I was in the dark about how Alexander hears with his hearing aids. I used to believe his hearing aids corrected his hearing like my glasses/contacts correct my vision. I was WRONG! I remember feeling so disappointed to learn this. I'm glad I know because now I will fight harder and probably longer so that he can get what he needs to learn language, just like I fight for Lily. I wanted to post this for friends and family to help you all understand better too. Many people think "it's not as bad" for Alexander because he can "hear better" than Lily. It seems easier for people to understand that Lily doesn't hear like normal hearing people and that she never will. This is true for Alexander as well. His hearing aids make sounds louder, but they will never make the sounds clearer. :(

FYI: Lily and Alexander both have sensorineural hearing loss. Click on the following links to read more about the differences. Conductive hearing loss vs. sensorineural hearing loss.

With a Hearing Aid, a Hearing-Impaired Child Can Hear as Well as You - False!

Unless you yourself have a hearing loss, the only kind of hearing loss you can probably identify with is the kind that can occur when you get a cold, and that's a conductive loss. You may wrongly assume that hearing aids will "fix" the problem and don't use techniques that can make communication better for a person wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids cannot fix the hearing of someone with a sensorineural hearing loss, especially a child.

Hearing aids can make sounds louder, but cannot make them clearer. Listening through a hearing aid has been described as tuning a radio slightly off a radio station, allowing static, then making it louder. Just as with a hearing aid, as the radio plays louder, the static and noise become worse.

This page will demonstrate visually how hearing aids work for conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Take a look at this image:

img1.gif (1622 bytes)

Try to read the word in the center. Next click on the image to see it enlarged, then use your back arrow to return here. Go ahead...we'll wait.

You should have been able to easily read the word in the center. This is how a hearing aid works for a conductive hearing loss: once sound is loud enough (bigger) it can be understood.

Now take a look at this image:

img2.gif (1826 bytes)

Again, see if you can read the word in the center. Click on this image to see it enlarged, then use your back arrow to return here. We'll wait for you again.

Could you read the word in the center? This is the way hearing aids work for sensorineural loss. Even though the aid makes sounds louder, it does not fill in parts of the sound that are missing or distorted. How much of the word is missing can be affected by things such as condition of the inner ear, auditory fatigue , listening experiences, prior exposure to the word, condition of the earmold, condition of the hearing aid, and background noise.

Some information for filling in the parts of the words that are missing or distorted may be gained through speech-reading (lip-reading). Even under the best conditions only about 30 to 40 percent of speech can be understood on the lips. Mouth the words pan, ban, and man. Notice that the position of your lips is the same for all 3 words. Even some words you may not think look the same, do. Try mouthing the words red and green. Once again, the position of your lips is the same for both words.

Other clues for filling in missing parts can be body language, context, tone of voice, repetition, pictures, or any of a number of different strategies. FM or Sound Field systems can be beneficial if background noise is adding to the problem.

We hope this demonstration has helped you understand why it is important to become familiar with and use strategies that will help a hearing-impaired child understand what is being said. You'll find links to many pages on techniques that can help communication on our Teaching & Education Resources page.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find out what the word is on the second card.

Did you correctly guess the word on the second card? The word is FIRETRUCK.

Found at

Adapted from: Nussbaum, Debra. There's A Hearing Impaired Child In My Class. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University, 1988.


  1. It is true that hearing aids can never restore and heal a hearing impaired child. However, doctors all over the world have been looking for solutions and hearing devices to make it possible to restore hearing one day. In fact, eardrum transplant is already available for everyone today.

    - Rebecca Kavel

  2. Hello,

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    Thank you,


  3. I completely agree with you @Rebecca that yes docs globaly are putting all efforts inoder to find a solution for restoration of hearing of the victims..

    Hearing Tests in Bangalore