When people think of hearing aids, they tend to think of those wearing them being slightly older, and therefore, having age-related hearing loss.
But did you know they can also be hugely beneficial to people who are profoundly deaf?
Powerful hearing aids
All hearing aid manufacturers provide technology that helps people who cannot hear sounds of below 90dB, which is considered profound hearing loss and means they cannot hear someone opposite them shouting.
These are simply more powerful versions of standard hearing aids, with the battery and speaker unit often being larger.
Although they cannot restore hearing, they can make the sound louder while reducing the background noise. This makes it easier to follow conversations.
Benefits of wearing hearing aids
Not all deaf patients like to wear hearing aids, particularly if they have had profound hearing loss their whole life and it is all they are used to.
However, there are others who really benefit from the technology. Firstly, it informs people around them they have hearing loss, so if they fail to respond to questions, it does not just appear as though they are being rude.
Hearing aids also make deaf people more aware of their surroundings, which could improve their everyday lives. For instance, they could hear traffic, which can make it easier for them to navigate crossing busy roads.
All in all, some people find wearing hearing aids gives them more security, improving their environmental awareness, hearing important announcements, and making those around them considerate of their additional needs.
What other treatments are available?
Super hearing aids are not the only option for those with profound hearing loss, as they could also have cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing systems.
These are devices that are surgically fitted, so the sound avoids the area of the ear that is damaged.
They work by changing the sound it detects into electrical signals, which the auditory nerve carries to the brain. These signals are then transformed into sounds, helping deaf people hear the noises around them.
They are popular among those who are born deaf or for whom hearing aids do not work effectively.
Another option is a bone-anchored hearing device, which is fixed to the bone behind the ear. It is fitted using a titanium implant, which sends sound vibrations directly to the inner ear.
This is a popular system for those who are only deaf on one side, have chronic conductive hearing loss, or have not been successful with hearing aids.
Sign language is still important
Whether deaf people use a hearing aid, a cochlear implant or a bone-anchored hearing device, sign language and lip reading are still hugely important to their communication.
Being able to communicate with others who have profound hearing loss quickly helps to build relationships and boost confidence. Therefore, having these tools under your sleeve helps to complement the benefits of modern technology.
Anyone watching the new series of GBBO will have noticed contestant Tasha using British Sign Language (BSL) and an interpreter.
Commenting on Bake Off’s first deaf baker, RNID’s director for inclusion and employment Teri Devine said: “It’s fantastic that the millions of viewers who watch Bake Off every week will get a taste of this rich and beautiful language on their screens at home.”
RNID hopes Tasha will help raise the profile of BSL, representing the deaf community to the show’s huge TV audience.