Disabilities Overview : Auditory Disability

How does IDEA define Auditory Impairments?

There are three categories of auditory disabilities in IDEA. They are deafness, hearing impairment and deaf-blindness. Here are the specific definitions from section 300.7(c) of the IDEA regulations:

(2)Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

(3)Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

(5)Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.

The most common cause of hearing loss in children is an infection or inflammation of the middle ear. This is called otitis media. Another large group of children acquired their hearing loss because of environmental factors such as noise drugs and toxins. Some acquired hearing loss is a result of heredity.

IDEA allows states to define the degree of hearing loss which determines a student's eligibility for special education services. Deafness is usually defined as a hearing loss of 70 decibels or greater in the better ear. Hard of Hearing is defined as a hearing loss of 35-60 decibel in the better ear. In addition, to be eligible for special education services, the hearing loss must affect the student's educational performance.

Many classroom accommodations or modifications can be helpful to students with auditory disabilities. Here are a few examples:

Common Assistive Technology Devices used by Children with Auditory Disabilities

Most commonly, assistive technology used by students with auditory disabilities helps them to communicate with others or to listen. Below are some common examples of assistive technology used by students with auditory disabilities:

It is important to remember that a student with an auditory disability may have trouble with other functional life skills (e.g. reading, writing, recreation and leisure).

Other Auditory Disability Websites

Special Education and Rehabilitation Internet Resources
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sites

Penman's Page for Families with Hard-of-Hearing or Deaf Children