The content in this section of the Sunshine Cottage website comes directly from the Oberkotter Foundation's website www.oraldeafed.org* and is reprinted with permission of the Oberkotter Foundation.
ACOUSTICS: Having to do with sound, the sense of hearing, or the science of sound. As used in this web site, the term refers to the qualities of an auditorium, classroom, or other space that determine how well sounds can be heard.
ACOUSTIC ROOM TREATMENT: The use of sound-absorbing materials (such as carpets and acoustical tile) to reduce room noise and improve the usefulness of hearing aids and other listening devices.
ADVENTITIOUS DEAFNESS: A hearing loss that occurs any time after birth due to injury or disease.
ACQUIRED HEARING LOSS: Hearing loss which is not present at birth. Sometimes referred to as adventitious loss.
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act. A federal legislation which impacts accessibility for disabled persons in education, the workplace, and public places.
AIR CONDUCTION: An evaluative measure performed during diagnostic audiologic testing whereby sound is delivered via earphones through the ear canal, the ear drum, and middle ear to the inner ear to assess hearing sensitivity. (Contrasts with Bone Conduction, see below.)
AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (ASL): A visual/gestural language used by many deaf people in the United States and Canada. Its grammar and syntax are not the same as English. See Signed English System, below.
AMPLIFICATION: The use of hearing aids and other electronic devices to increase the loudness of sound so that it may be more easily received and understood.
ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES: A group of systems including personal hearing aids, FM systems and infared systems that through special input enhance listening situations and auditory awareness for use of the telephone, television, amplified alarms and signals. For more detailed information, see the sections on Support Aids and Auditory Devices.
ATRESIA (medical term): Closure of the ear canal and/or absence of an ear opening.
AUDIO LOOPS / INDUCTION LOOPS: Assistive listening device which enhances the use of hearing aids in schools, theaters, religious places, and public buildings and auditoriums. The ADA requires the inclusion of these systems in a host of public settings.
AUDIOGRAM: A graph on which a person's ability to hear different pitches (frequencies) at different volumes (intensities) of sound is recorded.
AUDIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT: A series of tests performed to identify pure-tone thresholds, impedance, speech recognition, and speech discrimination, which show the type and degree of hearing loss and status of outer, middle and inner ear function.
AUDIOLOGIC EVALUATION: Tests conducted by an audiologist to determine whether a hearing loss is present, what tones (pitches) are affected, how severe the hearing loss is, and the type of hearing loss. The evaluation also includes recommendations as to the hearing loss management, including selection of an appropriate amplification.
AUDIOLOGIST: A licenced professional with a degree in the science of hearing (Audiology) who conducts hearing tests, evaluates hearing loss, and fits amplification devices. The audiologist is an important source for information on hearing aids, cochlear implants and other interventions. Certification of qualifying audiologists is given by ASHA.
AUDITORY/ORAL EDUCATION: An approach based on the principle that most deaf and hard-of-hearing children can be taught to listen and speak with early intervention and consistent training to develop their hearing potential. The focus of this educational approach is to use the auditory channel (or hearing) to acquire speech and oral language. The goal is for these children to grow up to become independent, participating citizens in mainstream society. Also known as Oral Deaf Education.
AUDITORY TRAINER: An assistive auditory device or FM system similar to a radio transmitter with a wireless microphone. The teacher or parent wears the microphone transmitter while the child wears the receiver which is set to amplify sound. The benefit is that the background room noise is not amplified, and the teacher/parent's voice has direct access to the child from any location, even another room.
AUDITORY TRAINING: The process of training a person's residual hearing in the recognition, identification, and interpretation of sound.
AUDITORY/VERBAL THERAPISTS: The development of speech and verbal language through the maximized use of auditory potential by trained and licenced auditory/verbal therapists.
AURAL HABILITATION: Training designed to help a person with hearing loss to make productive use of their residual hearing and listening abilities. It sometimes includes training in speechreading.
BACKGROUND / AMBIENT NOISE: Environmental noise that competes with the main speech signal.
BAHA: A bone anchored hearing aid is a hearing device that transmits sound to the cochlea of the inner ear by vibrating the mastoid bone.
BILATERAL HEARING LOSS: A mild to profound loss of hearing in both ears.
BINAURAL HEARING AIDS: Hearing aids worn in both ears. For more detailed information, see Hearing Aids in the section on Auditory Devices.
BONE CONDUCTION: An evaluative measure performed during diagnostic audiologic testing where sound is delivered via a bone ossilater. This technique helps determine whether the hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural. (This contrasts with Air Conduction, see above).
COCHLEAR IMPLANT: An electronic device surgically implanted to stimulate nerve endings in the inner ear (cochlea) in order to receive and process sound and speech. For more detailed information, see Cochlear Implants in the section on Auditory Devices.
CONDITIONED ORIENTATION REFLEX (COR): The audiologist teaches the young child to look toward a toy that lights up or moves when the child looks toward it in response to a sound.
CONDUCTlVE HEARING LOSS: Impairment of hearing due to the failure of sound waves to reach the inner ear through the normal air conduction channels of the outer and middle ear. In children, conductive loss is often medically correctable.
CONGENITAL HEARING LOSS: Hearing loss present at birth or associated with the birth process, or which develops in the first few days of life.
CUED SPEECH: A visual representation of the phonemes of spoken language, which uses eight hand shapes in four different locations in combination with the natural mouth movements of speech, to distinquish all the sounds of spoken language . It is offered by trained cued speech therapists.
DEAF: Hearing loss, which is severe enough to make it hard for a person to understand speech through listening with or without hearing aids or cochlear implants.
DEAF-BLIND: Educationally significant loss of vision and hearing.
DECIBEL (dB): The unit of measurement for the loudness or volume (intensity) of sound. The higher the dB, the louder the sound.
EAR: The ear has three main parts:
OUTER EAR: The auricle or pinna (the part of the ear on the outside of the head) and the ear canal.
MIDDLE EAR: Located between the outer ear and the inner ear, separated from the ear canal by the eardrum. The middle ear contains three tiny bones (the ossicles). The ossicles sound vibrations from the eardrum to the fluid of the inner ear.
INNER EAR The innermost part of the ear. It is composed of the hearing organ (the cochlea), the balance mechanism (the semicircular canal), and the auditory nerve. Vibration transmitted into the inner ear by the ossicles in the middle ear causes waves in the inner ear fluid, which stimulates the hair cells and the hearing nerve, causing electric signals to be transmitted to the brain, and interpreted as sound.
Other parts of the ear:
Auditory (or acoustic) nerve: Located in the inner ear, leading to the brain.
Cochlea: The snail-like organ of hearing located in the inner ear.
Eardrum: The tympanic membrane which separates the outer from the middle ear.
EAR MOLD: A custom-made plastic or vinyl piece which fits into the outer ear to interface with a hearing aid. For more detailed information, see Hearing Aids in the section on Auditory Devices.
EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETER: A person who is able to perform conventional interpreting, together with special skills for working in the educational setting. (Source: National Task Force on Educational Interpreting, 1989). For more detailed information, see Oral Transliterator in the section on Support Aids.
EVOKED RESPONSE AUDIOMETRY (ERA): A hearing test which uses an EEG (electroencephalograph) and a computer analysis to directly record the brain's response to sound. Useful in helping to determine a child's hearing level when the child is too young to cooperate with the audiologist.
EXTEND EAR: An FM auditory trainer without a body unit or cords. It can also function as a personal hearing aid. For more detailed information, see FM Systems in the section on Auditory Devices.
FINGERSPELLING: Representation of the alphabet by finger positions in order to spell out words or longer strings of language.
FM SYSTEM: A wireless assistive listening device that transmits the speaker's voice to an electronic receiver in which the sound is amplified and transmitted to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person's ears via small earphones on his or her personal hearing aids or connected to his or her cochlear implant. The device reduces the problem of background noise interference and the problem of distance from the speaker. For more detailed information, see FM Systems in the section on Auditory Devices.
FREQUENCY: The number of vibrations per second of a sound. Frequency, expressed in Hertz (Hz), determines the pitch of sound.
HARD OF HEARING: Hearing loss severe enough to interfere with school or work. Hard-of-hearing people can typically process speech and language quite well with the help of an auditory device, such as a hearing aid.
HEARING AID: An electronic device that conducts and amplifies sound to the ear. For more detailed information, see Hearing Aids in the section on Auditory Devices.
HEARING IMPAIRED: Refers to persons with any degree of hearing loss, from mild to profound, including deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. This term is losing acceptance by deaf persons because of the term "impaired" which connotes negative meaning. The preferred term is "deaf and/or hard of hearing".
HEARING LOSS: Hearing loss was originally defined in medical terms before the development of modern audiology. Today, professionals tend to use the consistent, research-based terminology of audiology. The following numerical values are based on the average of the hearing loss at three frequencies: 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz, in the better ear without amplification. The numerical values for the seven categories vary among professionals.
Normal Hearing (-10 dB to 15 dB)
Slight loss (16 dB to 25 dB)
Mild loss (26 dB to 30 dB)
Moderate (31 dB to 50 dB)
Moderate/Severe (51 dB to 70 dB)
Severe loss (71 dB to 90 dB)
Profound loss (91 dB or more)
HEARING SCREENING: Simple testing of the ability to hear selected frequencies at intensities within normal hearing limits. Screenings are used to identify individuals with significant hearing loss and to refer them for further testing.
HERTZ (Hz): This is the generally used term for measuring pitch, expressing the vibrations or cycles per second. Most speech sounds fall within the so-called "speech range" of about 300 to 3000 Hz.
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act - PL94-142, Revised. See the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act under the section on The Law for additional information.
IMPEDANCE AUDIOMETRY: Testing to measure the ability of the middle ear to conduct sound to the inner ear. This information can be useful to the otologist in determining whether a middle ear problem exists which requires medical treatment.
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP): A team-developed, written document. The IEP outlines the goals for education and therapy for a student with disability, and provides a guideline for achieving them. An IEP for a deaf child should take into consideration such factors as:
Communication needs and the child's and family's preferred mode of communication. Linguistic needs, severity of hearing loss and potential for maximizing auditory ability. Academic level, social and emotional needs, including opportunities for peer interactions and communication.
INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICE PLAN (IFSP): A team-developed, written plan for infants and toddlers (aged 0 to 3 years) which addresses:
Assessment of the child's strengths and needs, and identification of services to meet such needs.
Assessment of family resources and priorities, and the identification of supports and services necessary to enhance the capacity of the family to meet the developmental needs of the infant or toddler with a disability.
A written individualized family service plan developed by three members of a multidisciplinary team including the parent or guardian. (Source: IDEA).
INFLECTION: A change in the pitch of the speaking voice to add meaning or emphasis to a word or phrase.
INFORMAL TESTING: The audiologist presents a variety of sounds ranging from low pitch to high pitch, and from soft to loud, out of the child's sight. The child's response to each sound is noted.
INFRARED SYSTEMS: See under Audio loops/Induction Loops.
INTENSITY: The loudness of a sound, measured in decibels (dB).
INTERPRETER OR TRANSLITERATOR FOR THE DEAF: A person who facilitates communication between hearing and deaf or hard-of-hearing persons through interpretation or transliteration. Interpretation translates language from one modality to another, such as between Spoken English and American Sign Language. Transliteration (usually by a cued Speech or Oral Transliterator) conveys spoken information into more clear and readily speechreadable form or voices over difficult to understand speech into more clear speech.. The EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETER specializes in classroom interpreting.
INTONATION: The aspect of speech made up of changes in pitch and stress in the voice. The voice may go higher or lower during speech to emphasize certain words or parts of words more than others.
LIPREADING: See Speechreading.
MAINSTREAMING: The concept that students with disabilities should be integrated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible, when appropriate to the needs of the student with a disability.
MIXED HEARING LOSS: A hearing loss with combined sensorineural and conductive elements.
MONAURAL AMPLIFICATION: The use of one hearing aid instead of two.
MORPHEME: A linguistic unit of relatively stable meaning that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. (Source: American Heritage Dictionary)
MYRINGOTOMY (medical term): Surgery which opens the eardrum to allow drainage of fluid from the middle ear.
NATURAL LANGUAGE: Language acquired primarily through the accessible sensory channel(s).
NOTETAKER: One who writes notes for the deaf or hard-of-hearing persons in various settings such as the classroom or in the office. For more detailed information, see Notetaker in the section on Support Aids.
OPHTHALMOLOGIST: A physician specializing in the treatment of diseases of the eye.
ORAL DEAF EDUCATION: An approach based on the principal that most deaf and hard-of-hearing children can be taught to listen and speak with early intervention and consistent training to develop their hearing potential. The goal is for these children to grow up to become independent, participating citizens in mainstream society. Also known as Auditory-Oral Education.
ORAL INTERPRETER: Same as for Oral Transliterator>
ORAL TRANSLITERATOR: Communicates the words of a speaker or group of speakers to an individual who is deaf by inaudibly mouthing what is said so that it can be read on the lips. For more detailed information, see Oral Transliterating in the section on Support Aids.
OSSICLES: Three tiny bones (the Incus, Malleus and Stapes) in the middle ear.
OTITIS MEDIA (medical term): Infection of the middle ear that usually results in a conductive hearing loss until the middle ear becomes well ventilated. Children with recurrent attacks may have fluctuating hearing loss and be somewhat at risk for acquiring permanent hearing loss.
OTOLARYNGOLOGIST: A medical doctor specializing in problems of the ear, nose, and throat. Sometimes referred to as an ENT doctor. Another name for the same specialist is OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGIST.
OTOLOGIST: A physician who specializes in medical problems of the ear.
PARENT-INFANT PROGRAM: A program of parent education and infant/toddler intervention which stresses early exposure to language and attention to developmental processes that enhance the learning of language. Some programs include early exposure to amplification and the use of hearing aids to stimulate the auditory channel.
PLAY AUDIOMETRY: A hearing test in which the audiologist teaches the child to respond with some action - a game response - whenever he hears a sound. He may learn, for instance, to put a peg in a hole, a ring on a peg, or a piece in a puzzle every time he hears a sound. The audiologist uses the audiometer, a piece of equipment that presents different tones (from low to high pitch, usually within the speech range) at varying levels of loudness to assess a child's hearing sensitivity.
PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT: A collection of a student's work which demonstrates achievement, efforts, and progress over a period of time.
POSTLINGUAL DEAFNESS: Hearing loss acquired after first learning a language.
PRAGMATICS: The appropriateness of language use to the situation, the speaker, and the audience in regard to logic and validity.
PRELINGUAL DEAFNESS: Refers to hearing loss which occurs before the child develops language.
REAL-TIME CAPTIONING: On-line captioning for television screens and monitors giving the printed speech of live speakers. For more detailed information, see Real-Time Captioning in the section on Support Aids.
RESIDUAL HEARING: The amount of usable hearing which a deaf or hard-of-hearing person has.
REVERBERATION: Prolongation of a sound after the sound source has ceased or an echo within a room, due to sound absorption of walls, floor and celing.
SECTION 504: In the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1977, it provides for the accessibility needs of disabled persons.
SEMANTICS: The use in language of meaningful referents, in both word and sentence structures.
SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS: A permanent hearing loss caused by failure or damage of auditory fibers in the inner ear (cochlea) and/or damage to the neural system.
SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO: The difference in the intensities of the speech signal (such as a teacher's voice) and the ambient (background) noise.
SIGNED ENGLlSH SYSTEMS: Sign systems developed for educational purposes, which use manual signs in English word order; sometimes with added affixes which are not present in American Sign Language. Signing Exact English and Seeing Essential English are two examples.
SPEECHREADING: The interpretation of lip and mouth movements, facial expressions, gestures, elements of sound, structural characteristics of language, and topical and contextual clues. Sometimes referred to as as lipreading.
SPEECH PERCEPTION: The ability to recognize speech stimuli presented at suprathreshold levels (levels loud enough to be heard).
SPEECH INTELLIGIBILITY: The ability to be understood when using speech.
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT: One or more of the following communication impairments which adversely affects educational performance:
An inability to articulate words correctly, including omissions, substitutions, or distortions of sound, beyond the age when they might normally be expected;Voice impairment, including abnormal rate of speaking, speech interruptions, and repetition of sounds, words, phrases, or sentences, which interferes with effective communication;
One or more other language impairments, as determined both by informal use of language and by at least two standardized tests or subtests which indicate inappropriate language functioning for the child's age.
SYNTAX: Defines the word classes of language (nouns, verbs, etc.) and the rules for their combination (which words can be combined, and in what order to convey meaning).
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST: A professional who works with individuals who have specific needs in the area of speech and language.
TEACHER:Term used broadly to include teachers trained to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing children, teachers in ordinary (mainstreamed) classrooms, or a resource teacher who may work with children who have special needs.
UNILATERAL HEARING LOSS: A mild to profound loss of hearing in only one ear. Unilateral loss is now believed to adversely affect the educational process in a significant percentage of students who have it.