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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

Late–Deafened Adults

The age when hearing loss occurs impacts how a person adjusts and manages. For a person who has grown up in the hearing world, taking for granted speaking and listening for communication, deafness creates significant challenges. This page will explore considerations and provide resources for people who are considered “late deafened.”



According to the Association of Late Deafened Adults:

“Late–deafened usually means deafness that happened post–lingually, any time after the development of speech and language. Often it means after the age of adolescence (13 and above). Usually a late–deafened adult (LDA) has identified with hearing society through schooling, social connections, etc. They are usually unable to understand speech without visual aids such as speech–reading, sign language, and/or Computer Aided Real–time Transcription (CART). They also may have lost their hearing suddenly or gradually as a result of inherited causes, accident, illness, medication, surgery, noise or other factors. LDAs also can share in the common experience of having been raised in the hearing world and having become deaf rather than having been born deaf.”

Who and How many?

According to the some estimates, about 75% of deaf adults became deaf after age 19 (Schein & Delk, 1974). It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact number of people impacted by acquired deafness. The definitions used to define this population are inconsistent, most the studies are old, and the populations used to obtain sample data are often skewed (Does a survey of people who own hearing aids tell us about those who do not benefit from aids or can not afford to buy them?) For more information on census and demographic data Click here.


Even though late deafened people may struggle to understand spoken language, many are hesitant to learn sign language. Sign language may feel like one more separation from family, co–workers, and friends who probably do not sign. Rather, spoken language and the culture that uses speech for communication may remain ‘home’ for a late deafened person. For this reason, accommodations that make speech accessible are an important consideration. Please see our Communication Accommodationssection for more information.

Emotions & Grief

Loss of hearing may lead to many other painful losses in a person’s life. Grief is a natural response to these unwanted changes. The following resources may be helpful.

Successful Living with Hearing Loss on E–Michigan

Grieving For Your Hearing Loss—The Rocky Road From Denial To Acceptance By Neil Bauman, PhD.

Unheard Voices

Unheard Voices is a lively and compassionate portrayal of people managing the life–changing impact of hearing loss. Gael Hannan, an actor with a profound hearing loss adapted her powerful one–woman play for this video. Gael shared this performance with participants at Michigan’s SHHH Expo and Conference in April 2004. The characters in Unheard Voices include men, women, children, and parents who are struggling with hearing loss. The stories are eloquent descriptions of hearing loss and real life.

For more information visit the SHHH store at or Click here.

Additional Resources

Association of Late Deafened Adults
An international organization serving the needs of late–deafened adults.

Deafened People Page
A non–profit resource and research entity.

Hearing Loss Web
Hearing Loss Web is dedicated to people who have hearing loss, but are not members of the traditional Deaf community. It was started by a woman who is late deafened.

HOH–LD News is a weekly email newsletter for people with hearing loss. For subscribe information Click here.

Mental Health Consideration for People who are Late Deafened
A Chapter from “Standards of Care for the Delivery of Mental Health Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.” Click here.

Michigan Self Help for Hard of Hearing People
Local chapters provide training and support for adults with all levels of hearing loss.

Self Help for Hard of Hearing People
This national organization offers many resources related to hearing loss.

Working with Students who are Late–Deafened
A Teacher Tip Sheet in PDF

Books and other Media

A Quite World: Living with Hearing Loss
by Michigan author, David G. Myers

Unheard Voices
Gael Hannan. Closed captioned. 23 minutes.
Price: $25.00
Available only at SHHH and click on Shop for Books

I’ve Lost My What: A Practical Guide to Life After Deafness

by Shawn Lovley

Rehabilitation of Late-Deafened Adults: Modular Program Manual
by Jaclyn B. Spitzer, Steven B. Leder, Thomas G. Giolas

The above books are available at
(Just click on Book image or title to Amazon Website for further book information/order)

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