Written by: Deidre Johnson
“I hope I inspire people who hear. Hearing people have the ability to remove barriers that prevent deaf people from achieving their dreams.” — Marlee Matlin.
What is deafness?
Deafness is defined as a degree of impairment such that a person is unable to understand speech even in the presence of amplification. In profound deafness, even the loudest sounds produced by an audiometer (an instrument used to measure hearing) may not be detected. In total deafness, no sounds at all, regardless of amplification or method of production, are heard.
Hearing loss exists when there is diminished sensitivity to the sounds normally heard. The term hearing impairment is usually reserved for people who have relative insensitivity to sound in the speech frequencies. The severity of a hearing loss is categorised according to the increase in volume above the usual level necessary before the listener can detect it.
Another aspect of hearing involves the perceived clarity of a sound rather than its amplitude. In humans, that aspect is usually measured by tests of speech perception. These tests measure one’s ability to understand speech, not to merely detect sound. There are very rare types of hearing impairments that affect speech understanding alone.
Why is exercise so important?
Many studies have shown that hard of hearing children struggle with both gross and fine motor development delays and deficits.
Exercise strengthens muscles and thus encourages coordination of the body during movement. Gross motor skill activities such as running, jumping, skipping assist in the development and strengthening of one’s larger muscle groups and consequently help in improving one’s balance and coordination. Fine motor skill activities such as threading beads onto a piece of string assist with coordination and development of the smaller muscles which enable activities such as writing, colouring within the lines, picking up coins etc.
Last year, eta Cape Town campus had the privilege of spending time at two schools for hearing impaired children.
Our Higher Certificate students as well as our second year Exercise Specialist students spent time doing physical activity sessions with them. The activity sessions consisted of static and dynamic balance, manual dexterity skills and motor activity and coordination skills training and activities.
Many students (and staff members alike) were drawn to the enthusiasm and excitement of these children. Activity is something that we as health and wellness professionals tend to take for granted being in the industry we are in, however this was seen as such a “treat” for these children as the majority of them are from disadvantaged communities and physical education in schools is fast becoming a thing of the past.