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Deafness is when someone cannot hear or cannot hear well. There were many famous people who were deaf, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Deafness is also known as 'hearing loss'.


A person is considered to be deaf if they cannot hear the same range of sounds as a person with normal hearing ability. People that cannot hear any sounds are also deaf. People who are partially deaf may hear some sounds and may hear words.

People who can hear and understand words are hard of hearing.

Things that help deaf people

  • Hearing aid, which helps a deaf person to hear sounds.
  • Teletypewriter (TTY), that allows a deaf person to communicate with people.
  • Sign language, which allows a deaf person to have a conversation with someone else.
  • Hearing dog is a dog that has been trained to hear sounds and help a deaf person.


There are different causes of deafness:

  • Age: People will lose their hearing as they get older.
  • Exposure to noise: A noisy environment may affect the hearing of people and cause people to become deaf.
  • Genetic conditions: There can be a family history of deafness. If the mother and/or father are deaf, their child will have a strong chance of being deaf.
  • Diseases: Certain diseases may cause deafness.
  • Drugs: Certain drugs may affect hearing.
  • Chemicals: Certain chemicals can damage the ear.

Categories of deafness

Generally, there are two views of deafness:

  • Medical view: the effects of deafness and measuring type and how much of loss (as seen in categories below).
  • Cultural view: includes people who use sign language to communicate and are part of group of people who share life experiences. Referring to people of the cultural group the phrase "Deaf people" is used and deaf is capitalized (as shown previously). A person using the medical view would write "people who are deaf".

These categories may overlap.