Technology brings sound to the deaf



An innerzone dialogue session has brought Bloemfontein residents into the world of the deaf through its deafness and hearing loss discussion forum held in the city last week. The aim of the discussion was to highlight the psychological challenges that the deaf and the blind face daily.

Dr Magteld Smith, a medical-social researcher at the department of ear, nose and throat at the UFS, who is deaf herself, together with Dr Christo du Plessis, a psychiatrist at a local hospital facilitated the forum..

According to Bruno Drunchen, a national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA), the biggest challenge that deaf people face daily is being misunderstood. “People do not understand deaf people. They cannot communicate with them. It is frustrating enough when people do not understand you while speaking the same language. It is worse for deaf people,” he says. Drunchen is also a deaf person, who speaks through an interpreter.

According causes of sudden loss of hearing vary widely. “The causes include viral infections, tumours, traumas and drugs. Hearing loss in children can be inherited or can be caused by illness or injury. Exposure to loud noise in certain occupations from sources such as construction machinery, heavy equipment or amplified music can cause sensorineural hearing loss in people of all ages and is the most common cause of hearing loss.”

In the case of loss of hearing, there are various hearing aids to assist with the problem. The 23-year-old Elrie Du Toit, a third-year social work and sign language student at the University of the Free State says she has been using hearing aids for the past 15 years. “They are very effective. I hear like a normal person when I am wearing them,” she says.

According to there are various styles of hearing aids with different technology, designed to suit specific needs and degrees of hearing loss.