NCLEX RN Practice Question # 466

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Hearing Impairments


A hearing impairment is a hearing loss that prevents a person from totally receiving sounds through the ear. If the loss is mild, the person has difficulty hearing faint or distant speech. A person with this degree of hearing impairment may use a hearing aid to amplify sounds. If the hearing loss is severe, the person may not be able to distinguish any sounds.

There are four types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive: caused by diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear that usually affect all frequencies of hearing. A hearing aid generally helps a person with a conductive hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural: results from damage to the inner ear. This loss can range from mild to profound and often affects certain frequencies more than others. Sounds are often distorted, even with a hearing aid.
  • Mixed: occurs in both the inner and outer or middle ear.
  • Central: results from damage to the central nervous system.

People with hearing impairment can communicate using numerous methods of communication, such as:

  • American Sign Language (ASL): This is the primary language of people who are deaf. It consists of a combination of hand movements and positions to express thoughts and phrases.
  • Finger spelling: This is a manual form of communication in which the hand and fingers spell out letters of the alphabet to form words.
  • Lipreading: This is a difficult skill used only by about 10% of people with hearing impairments. Therefore, don’t assume that a deaf person to whom you are speaking can lip read. Even if a person cannot lip read, however, being allowed to see the speaker’s mouth provides helpful visual cues.
  • Written communication (“Pad and Pencil”): This is a fairly simple way to communicate with a person who is deaf. Remember, however, that sign language is the primary language for most persons who are deaf; English is a second language, so keep your words simple.
  • Oral communication


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