Around 10% or Australians have a hearing loss which is measured in decibels (loudness) and frequency (pitch). Audiograms show the levels of hearing loss: Mild (40-50 dB), Moderate (55-70 dB), Severe (70-90 dB) or profound (90+ dB). Human speech is around 60 decibels so it is difficult to ear or understand speech if you have more than a mild or moderate hearing loss.
Generally, the more hearing a person has, the more they will speak and rely on lip reading. The less hearing they have, the more likely they will prefer to use Sign Language. Each individual has a particular communication preference which is often related to family upbringing and the schools they have attended.
Hearing aids can help some people, but they only amplify whatever sounds can be heard. Unclear sounds remain unclear; they are just louder.
People with a hearing loss can be divided into two groups:
The Australian Deaf Community is made up of diverse individuals and families who share a common culture and language, generally not known to the hearing community. Many Deaf people identify with the Deaf community and see themselves as members of a cultural and linguistic group whose first language is Auslan and second language is written English. They do not necessarily see themselves as a person with a disability.