Description of Research Report: Hearing Problems of and the Need for Hearing Services by Consumers of Vision Rehabilitation Services
Consumers' hearing problems and need for hearing services cannot be overlooked when providing vision rehabilitation services. Approximately 8% of adults aged 18–44 report that they have trouble hearing; as with visual impairment, the prevalence of hearing loss increases dramatically with age, with an estimated 50% of adults aged 75 and older having hearing problems (Pleis & Coles, 2002). Furthermore, national estimates indicate that approximately 12% of adults aged 70 and older have difficulty with both their vision and their hearing (Su & Brennan, 2002). In light of these statistics, it is likely that vision rehabilitation professionals will work with a number of consumers who have hearing losses that could negatively affect the vision rehabilitation process. For example, hearing loss may significantly interfere with a person's ability to understand instructions for using low vision devices or with learning orientation and mobility techniques. Furthermore, research has found that hearing loss is associated with depression, anxiety, less satisfaction with life, the loss of independence, and isolation (Mulrow et al., 1990; National Academy on an Aging Society, 1999; Smith & Kampfe, 1997). Therefore, any vision rehabilitation service that is aimed at addressing psychosocial issues may prove to be a greater challenge if a consumer's hearing problems have not been addressed.