Your alarm clock going off, the sound of water splashing, the bustling of vehicles, chit chat in the streets and music. Such a gift isn’t it? To be able to listen to every sound and experience every beat. We could call ourselves lucky even.
On a normal scale, the human ear can hear from 20 to 20,000 hertz (hz). Below 20 hz is infrasound and above 20,000 hz is ultrasound. Some examples of infrasound are supersonic aircrafts, earthquakes, severe storms, and the Northern Lights.
Unfortunately, though, so many people out there don’t get to use their sense of hearing to its full potential. Whether it’s from their own doing, or something they were just born with, hearing loss is a circumstance that has only increased in numbers over the years.
As a matter of fact, according to World Health Organization (WHO), there is currently over 466 million people around the world who have disabling hearing loss ranging from causes like genetics, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
Which is all alarming, but also things we have heard before. What we’re guessing you don’t know is that, hearing loss isn’t just as simple as hearing loss. There are actually four different types of hearing loss that exist.
The first one is conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is when something stops sound from getting through the outer or middle ear. Upside though, this type of hearing loss can be treated through medicine or surgery.
The second type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss. This hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works. The third is mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of both the conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
The fourth type of hearing loss is auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder. With this type of hearing loss, the way sound enters the ear isn’t in a way the brain can understand, because of damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve.
Besides types, hearing loss can also be staged at different degrees. This is to say that, a person with hearing loss could be suffering from it at either a mild, moderate, severe or profound degree.
So, when someone has a hearing loss problem, how do they experience one of the best things to have ever been created; music?
Believe it or not, any deaf person, regardless of their hearing loss level, can actually hear music! The only difference is, their musical journey is just a tad bit different than perfect hearing people.
Volume Up, Hearing Aids & Lyrics
People with mild to moderate hearing loss may already have some existing hearing, which enables them to listen to music, whether played out loud or through a set of headphones/earphones. But, they would need to set it at a higher volume to be able to really hear it. Those with a hearing loss at a severe to profound level though, would need the help of assistive devices connected to their hearing technologies, to hear music.
Without their hearing aids, hearing loud sounds can be faint and echoey. Someone with a higher level of hearing loss would also need to play music at a much louder volume, and go through the lyrics of a song, to better understand the music.
However, the part that really caught our eye is the fact that people who lack in one sense, heightens in other senses. For instance, deaf people utilize their other senses when experiencing music, their sense of touch perhaps.
Many of those who have hearing loss feel the vibrations which music omits, whether it's quiet sensitive vibrations to heavy basses. Holding a balloon, touching the speakers, standing bare feet in a club, feeling the vibrations resonate through their bodies, is a very surreal and exhilarating way in which deaf people feel, instead of hear music.
Sign Language Interpreters
What about concerts? Well, besides the vibrations and the hearing aids, some deaf people also request a sign language interpreter, which would be provided by the organizers or the band/singer/performers themselves. The interpreters then, either stand on the stage or near the deaf group in the crowd, and translate the concert as it takes place.
Another sense that deaf people pay higher attention to, is their sense of sight, which can be further enhanced with light shows!
Coordinating light shows during events, may also give people with hearing loss a better overall view of what’s going on. Light shows incorporate different colours and timed lighting in sync with the music being played. The colours used would depend on the mood of the song and the pace of the lighting, would help determine if the rhythm is slower or fast-beat.
Adding to that is using immersive subtitles into the set, either by popping them on the big screen or on different parts of the stage, so that it blends in with the show and helps those who need it at the same time.
Deafness is definitely defined in many different ways. From being deaf in only one ear, to becoming deaf out of the blue, the specifics of hearing loss lie on a very wide spectrum.
But at the end of the day though, no matter the type, the degree or the definition of hearing loss, it is beyond a doubt that the deaf can still very much enjoy and experience music like everyone else, which in our books seems rad as hell!