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Levels of deafness

Audiology appointment - Levels of hearing

What are the different levels of deafness?

How much can deaf people hear? Find out here!

The human ear can usually hear between 0dB (very quiet sounds) and 120dB (very loud sounds).

When your hearing test results are between 21 and 40dB you have mild deafness. Without hearing aids you can probably hear everything people say to you when you are in a quiet room. But you may have trouble hearing if there is lots of noise or if the person speaking is far away from you. You probably can’t hear a whispered conversation with friends.

When your hearing test results are between 41 and 70dB you have moderate deafness. Without hearing aids you may be able to hear a baby cry or when someone is talking to you in a quiet room. This is as long as they speak clearly, but not if there is lots of noise or they are far away from you.

When your hearing test results are between 71 and 95dB you have severe deafness. Without hearing aids you probably can’t hear someone speaking to you but you may hear some loud sounds like a dog barking or drums.

With your hearing aids you can usually follow spoken conversation with one person in a quiet room. But you probably use lip-reading, gestures and sign language when there is lots of background noise or in groups.

When your hearing test results are 95dB or higher you have profound deafness. Without hearing aids or cochlear implants you cannot hear someone talking to you but you may sometimes hear or feel very loud sounds like lorries passing in the street.

With your hearing aids or cochlear implants you can usually follow spoken conversation with one person in a quiet room. But you probably use lip-reading, gestures and sign language to make communication easier. Especially when there is lots of background noise or in groups.

It is very rare for someone to have no hearing at all (total deafness). But this may happen when someone is born without a cochlea or hearing nerve. Sometimes it happens because the cochlea has been damaged after an illness such as meningitis. A hearing aid or cochlear implant will not help these people and they may use sign language as their main way of communicating.

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National Deaf Children's Society

Registered Charity: England and Wales (1016532) and Scotland (SC040779)

Helpline: 0808 800 8880

youngmember@ndcs.org.uk

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