Hearing Loss

How Hearing Loss Impacts Communication

Hearing loss impacts nearly 20% of Americans to some degree. This may manifest in a variety of different manners, including adultsHearing Loss watching TV just a little too loud (Hi, Dad!), children sitting closer to the teacher in class, or even lip reading. Some individuals will use hearing aids, cochlear implants, or even Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA).

All children in Illinois are given a newborn hearing screening prior to leaving the hospital at birth. This helps to identify children early who may be at risk. Babies with hearing loss are at greater risk for delayed speech and language development, and early identification and intervention are best to reduce any negative effects.


Degree of Hearing Loss Effect on Communication
Minimal Hearing Loss (16-25 dB) Child may miss 10% of a message when teacher is more than 3 feet away. Effect is greater in a noisy environment.
Mild Hearing Loss (26-40 dB) Child may miss 25-50% of a message without using any amplification.
Moderate Hearing Loss (41-55 dB) Child will understand speech only when standing face-to-face, a few feet away. When novel words or ideas are presented, child will likely miss most. Without amplification, child may miss 50-100% of message.
Moderate to Severe Hearing Loss (56-70 dB) Child may miss 100% of message unless amplification is used. Speaker must use slow, loud speech.
Severe Hearing Loss (71-90 dB) Child may hear sounds approximately 1 foot away, when not using amplification.
Profound Hearing Loss (>90 dB) Child may be aware of speech vibrations, but will likely not detect sounds. Oftentimes, child will rely on vision to compensate for hearing inability.


Intervention depends on an individual’s age, degree of severity, and type of hearing loss. Difficulties with hearing may impact a child’s language and school success. Should you have concerns about your child’s hearing abilities, consult with an audiologist!


 Click here to find out more about how hearing affects speech and language.


Plante, E., & Beeson, P. (2004). Communication and Communication Disorders: A Clinical Introduction (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.


Shipley, K. G., & McAfee, J. G. (2009). Hearing Considerations. In Assessment in Speech

Language Pathology: A Resource Manual (4th ed., pp. 580-581). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar

Cengage Learning.