January 2012

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17

Personal Health: Lifelines for People With Hearing Loss

By JANE E. BRODY

Yvetta Fedorova

Hearing loss, a disability currently untreated in about 85 percent of those affected, may be the nation’s most damaging and costly sensory handicap. It is a hidden disability, often not obvious to others or even to those who have it.

Its onset is usually insidious, gradually worsening over years and thus easily ignored.

Most of those affected can still hear sounds and think the real problem is that people aren’t speaking clearly. They often ask others to speak up, repeat what was said or speak more slowly. Or they pretend they can hear, but their conversations may be filled with non sequiturs.