Difference Between Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The difference between Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The term ‘deaf’ refers to the condition whereby the ear does not respond to sound the way that it should and does with someone who is not effected by deafness, or ‘hard of hearing’ – which is when someone is unable to hear clearly and easily. In this blog, we will look at the difference between the two….. as a many people believe that the two aliments are one in the same, causing some confusion when confronted with these aliments.



This is a person who is born deaf or becomes deaf before they learn to speak, usually before 3 years of age. However, people who suffer from deafness should not be considered disabled, but rather thought of and treated the same as everybody else. They merely speak a different language. Yes, they are obviously aware that they can’t hear. However, they also know that they can do almost everything any other person can do, except hear. They believe that it is okay to be deaf and that there’s no need to have their ears checked. To them, hearing is not an issue, it’s just a part of who they are –which is true. They usually feel more comfortable with other people who are like them. Sign language is something they usually use as their primary method of communication. Some of them become very good lip-readers and some use hearing aids, it all depends on the severity of the deafness.

Hard of Hearing

On the other hand, people who are “hard of hearing” are individuals who begun to lose their hearing ability after they’d learnt to speak, often this happens as we age or as a result of an accident and sometimes from not taking care of the noise levels we expose our ears too. People who are hard of hearing speak normally and became immersed in the ‘hearing world’ with a range of mild to profound hearing loss. Even with this impairment there is nothing to prevent them from using aids such as speechreading, residual hearing, hearing-aids, cochlear, etc. Some of them function well in their communication but some do not. They can also use sign language, especially in deaf communities and function well there as well.

Having said that, it is good to remember that whatever a person’s hearing status, deaf or hard of hearing, one should always honour the individual’s right to choose whatever community they want to be identified with. It is also important for parents not to label their kids into any category until the kids are able to choose for themselves which community they feel comfortable identifying with.

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