Types and levels of hearing loss

This information has been produced by the Southend-on-Sea Hearing Loss Team.

Find out about the Hearing Loss Team.

The team have also provided guidance for schools on supporting pupils with a hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Loss

The majority of children who are seen by the outreach service have a sensori-neural hearing loss but some children who have a conductive loss and have been given hearing aids are also supported.

Sensori-neural hearing loss: this is a hearing loss in the inner ear. This usually means that the cochlear isn't working effectively and it is permanent.

Conductive hearing loss: this is the most common type of hearing loss and it means that sound cannot pass efficiently through the outer and middle ear into the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary, but it can be permanent in some cases.

It is possible for children to have a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This is known as a mixed loss.

Unilateral hearing loss: this is a hearing loss in one ear which can range from mild to profound.

Levels of Hearing Loss

This is described in terms of the decibels (dB) for hearing levels, or by the terms `mild`, `moderate`,`severe` or `profound`.

Based on British Society of Audiology definitions of hearing loss, this is the decibel hearing level range each of these terms refer to:

  • mild (21 to 40dB)
  • moderate (41 to 70dB)
  • severe (71 to 95dB)
  • profound (95dB)

The Audiology Department will provide more detailed information to parents regarding their children's hearing levels and the sounds that their child will be able to hear.

This will be presented in a graph called an Audiogram. This can be used to understand sounds that we can hear (or can't hear) based on hearing thresholds. Common sounds are plotted on the graph to indicate their average pitch and volume. Louder sounds (e.g towards the bottom of the graph, softer sounds towards the top) Low pitched sounds on the left and higher pitched sounds on the right.

Hearing test results can be transferred onto this graph to show which sounds are inaudible (above the hearing ' threshold) and those that are audible (below the hearing threshold)

`Speech Banana` is a term used to describe the area where most sounds of average conversational speech occur on this graph. Although other speech sounds are outside the speech banana, the ones within it and their frequencies are the ones that can affect a child's ability to learn language.

Will a child with a hearing loss need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

In Southend-on-Sea the support from the Hearing Loss Team is to children within mainstream or special schools. Southend does not have a resource base linked to a mainstream school for hearing impaired children.

Most of the children the team see do not require an EHCP as with support from the service and good practice from their school they are able to access the curriculum fully in line with their peers. However, if we feel that a child requires extra support, or possibly their hearing levels change and they require more support, then an EHCP can always be considered.

If children have additional needs to their hearing loss it may be that they require an EHCP to be able to receive the support they require.