Deaf / Hearing Loss Explained

Hearing Impairment

A hearing loss of 30 decibels or greater, pure tone average of 500, 1000, 2000 Hz, ANSI, unaided, in the better ear. Examples include, but are not limited to, conductive hearing impairment or deafness, sensorineural hearing impairment or deafness, high or low tone hearing loss or deafness, and acoustic trauma hearing loss or deafness. Documentation should include both unaided and aided audiogram results.

For a diagnosis of Central Auditory Processing Disorder, see Learning Disabilities documentation requirements.

Hard of Hearing/Deaf refers to a "disruption in the normal hearing process that may occur in the outer, middle, or inner ear, whereby sound waves are not converted to electrical signals and nerve impulses are not transmitted to the brain to be interpreted." (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

There are basically four degrees of hearing loss:

  • Mild — 26-45 decibel loss (serious for children still learning to talk)
  • Moderate — 46-65 decibel loss (more difficulty hearing speech)
  • Severe — 66-85 decibel loss (a lot of difficulty hearing speech; it is at this level the term "deaf" begins to be used)
  • Profound — over 85 decibel loss (hearing aids may or may not help, cochlear implants are often an option). (

Documentation required for hearing impairment includes: