Deafness is a condition in which a person has some degree of hearing impairment. The degree of deafness may vary. Some people are born with profound deafness and they are unable to hear anything. They live in a world of total silence. Many people have some hearing. The hearing may give them some sounds but they struggle to live normally as they are unable to comprehend what people are talking. They can hear some sounds and some frequencies but do not hear the entire speech making it difficult for them to live a normal life.
Rehabilitating people with deafness
The strategy around rehabilitating a deaf person revolves around 2 core principles:
- Improving hearing in deaf people
- Helping the deaf develop speech.
if the first strategy is used and we can significantly improve hearing, then speech development is much easier and fewer therapy strategies are required. However, we cannot improve hearing levels in everyone. Many people opt not to get a cochlear implant done. Also if the child is beyond 5 years of age, the cochlear implant is not very effective.
When the second strategy is used, developing speech is much more difficult. Many more therapy sessions are required and sometimes we need to use novel strategies and out-of-the-box strategies to develop meaningful speech.
Speech Therapy in deafness
Speech therapy for deafness revolves around 3 main strategies:
- Auditory-verbal therapy: In this form of therapy, there is complete avoidance of visual cues, sign language and gesticulations. The focus is to improve the hearing and speech outcomes due to hearing. This can be fairly successful in people who have some hearing and the hearing has been further amplified using hearing aids or a cochlear implant.
- Sign Language only therapy: In this there is a focus on developing sign language. Sign language can help in communicating with another sign language user. People often become very competent and proficient users of sign language. The problem is that their communication is limited to other sign language users. Also most countries have their own sign language which limits the communication further. Whilst a sign language user fits in with a deaf community, they find it difficult to get gainful employment and financial independence. Their living gets confined to the deaf community and they are unable to integrate within the larger community.
- Combination Therapy: In this, a combination of sign language and auditory-verbal training is used to develop meaningful speech.
Through seesoundlive, we present another option to develop speech in deaf or partially deaf individuals. We could call it visual-verbal therapy. In seesoundlive, visual cues are given to the brain. Studies show that one part of the brain can compensate for another part of the brain. It is well known that vision is closely related to hearing. When we stimulate the vision, we are in effect stimulating the hearing brain (especially in deaf or partially deaf people). So, the speaking part of the brain gets inputs and the deaf person is able to develop speech.
seesoundlive can be a powerful addition to speech therapy. It has the potential to restore speech in a mute person. It cannot give hearing to a deaf person. Restoration of hearing is possible only with intervention at an early age in children born deaf. If the age of cochlear implantation has been missed, seesoundlive can be a very good visual-verbal therapy to restore speech.