Sensory Loss

Sensory loss takes place when a person’s sight or hearing becomes impaired. For some people who have been born with a hearing or sight impairment the term “loss” is inappropriate. However many people who have spent their lives hearing or seeing and will experience a sense of loss if these abilities are affected. Very few people are totally deaf or completely blind so design for sensory loss should be about supporting remaining ability as well as compensating by using other senses.

There are three very distinct groups within sensory impairment: visually impaired people

see more:understand the factors that impact on an individual with sensory loss

Sight can help us perceive the world through image, motion and colour. The term sight loss is used to describe those who are ‘blind’ and can’t see at all as well as people who are ‘partially sighted’ and might be able to see something such as shadows or hazy colour. Sight loss can mean people move around and interact with the environment by using alternative strategies which design can support.

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Sight loss has numerous causes relating to, accident, age, disease and dementia deaf people

In our culture many forms of communication are built around the ability to hear. On this site hearing loss is used to describe those who are either deaf or hard of hearing. It is important to note that people with hearing loss living in care will have a board spectrum of hearing ability that ranges from mild to severe impairment.

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Hearing loss is one of the most common disorders to affect elderly people and has many causes. deafblind people

When a person has difficulties seeing and hearing then the person can be termed deafblind. Although it is more common to refer to someone as being deafblind if there combined sight and hearing loss which causes difficulties for them with communication, mobility and access to information. The combination of the two sensory impairments intensify the impact of each other, which usually means that a deafblind person will have difficulty, or find it impossible, to utilise and benefit fully from services for deaf people or services for blind people. Meeting the needs of deafblind people therefore requires a separate approach. Deafblindness is a unique and extremely complex disability that often requires specialist communication methods and and systems being introduced to the person and those around them to enable communication to take place.

Deafblindness has adverse effects on all areas of development, in particular the language acquisition process, conceptual development, motor development, behaviour and personality of a person. People who are deafblind can generally be separated into two groups: Congenital Deafblindness – People who were born with a hearing and vision impairment. This category may also include individuals who are born hearing – sighted, but who become deafblind through accident or illness within the first months of their lives. The important factor being that they become deafblind before they had the opportunity to gain formal language skills. Acquired Deafblindness – People who develop deafblindness later in life.

Three combinations are possible:

a) Individuals who are born blind and later develop a hearing impairment.

b) Individuals who are born deaf and later develop vision impairment.

c) Individuals who are born sighted and hearing, but later develop a vision and hearing impairment.

There are a number of factors that can impact individuals with sensory loss, communication and awareness plays a big role in this, they may also find it difficult to feed themselves, dressing, mobility, hobbies and interests can have a major negative impact on their lives. They could also feel scared and alone. There can also be positive factors that could impact on individual’s lives; increased help, aids for support and a good support team could give them a better outlook on life. Societal attitudes and beliefs can impact individuals with sensory loss in quite a negative way because people in society can be very judgmental towards people with disabilities, and put them in a group of people with below average intelligence and assume they can’t do or think the same way as other people without disabilities can.

People in society can also be very prejudice and ignorant and think they are better than people with sensory loss, also thinking it gives them the right to make fun at them and making life difficult in the process. Although not all people think the same way there are many other people in society that are very open towards individuals with disabilities and sensory loss and can be very helpful and kind, this can have a positive impact on people’s lives. There are a range of factors that societal attitudes and beliefs impact on service provisions, discrimination is one of the biggest problem in today’s society, people with sensory loss are treated differently, and there a lot of barriers that need to be overcome, service provision is a term used to describe a wide range of activities, including the provision of assistive devices, rehabilitation services, occupational therapy and health services. Although there are a lot of places like this there is still the need to raise awareness so other individuals will know how to communicate with people with sensory loss, this could help the.

The social model of disability supports the idea of person-centred services. For people with sensory loss, this means that services are planned in a way that gives people control over the services they need to support them. Most people are now offered a personal budget that enables them to work out a support plan based on what they are able to do for themselves, the informal support they have and identifying where paid support is needed to fill the gaps. The changes in attitudes brought about by new initiatives such as those mentioned above have resulted in the huge shifts in how services are delivered. Services are no longer based on a ‘gift’ model where professionals decide what services will best suit someone; person-centred service planning and delivery now put people at the heart of everything and give them choice and control over their lives.

There are many ways that somebody with sight loss can communicate. Some examples of communication can be seen in print, using information technology, recording on to tape or disk, Braille or a specially adapted telephone. Computers, scanners, software and electronic magnifiers can frequently enable the person to read or write, while some staff find it beneficial to record information on to disk. A big button telephone enables people with sight loss to access the telephone. Braille is a tactile language, read/felt through the fingertips. British Sign Language (BSL) is the language of choice for a significant number of deaf people in the UK. It is a visual/spatial language, which has its own grammatical rules using hand shapes, hand movements and facial expressions to convey meaning. The grammatical rules of BSL are completely different to the rules of English A number of people who are deaf or hard of hearing sometimes prefer to communicate using lipspeakers.

These follow the conversation and repeat what is said but without using their voice; this in turn makes it easier for some people to lipread. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may access a speech-to-text reporter. This uses a special keyboard to produce a verbatim (word for word) report, which is displayed on a computer screen or a large screen, via a data projector, for the deaf person to read. This is an entirely different system to having a note taker who will provide summary notes, not a verbatim account of what is being relayed. A telephone relay service is used by many people with a hearing loss who wish to communicate by telephone. The message is relayed to an operator, who sends the message by text to the person with hearing loss. If there are no hearing people involved in the call, then it is a straight text-to-text conversation which does not need the help of an operator to translate speech to text. The use of hearing aids greatly enhances communication for some people who are hard of hearing.

There are many types of hearing aids, induction loops and conversers on sale at present and some hearing aids are still available from the NHS. People who are deafblind communicate using their remaining sight and hearing. They can also use touch with objects, known as tactile communication, or by using touch with people, known as tactual communication. Communicating with people who have a dual sensory loss is greatly enhanced by using clear speech and clear print. People who have a vision loss after using signs for communication can still follow the signs being used by putting their hands over those of the person who is signing. The Deafblind Manual Alphabet is similar to BSL fingerspelling, but all of the manual alphabet is concentrated on the person’s hand in which you point to different finger positions on the deafblind person’s hand, or draw letter shapes.

Tactile communication

Braille is a system of raised dots which can be read by touch. The Moon alphabet consists of embossed shapes which can be read by touch. Objects of Reference are objects that have special meanings assigned to them. They stand for something in the same way that words do.

Cite this page

Sensory Loss. (2016, May 30). Retrieved from

Sensory Loss

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