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The sound of deafness

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 24 September 2012

Nine million people in the UK alone have significant hearing problems. The mechanisms in our ears that help us hear are incredibly sensitive and are easily damanged by environmental hazards such as loud noises and chemicals or simply the passage of time.

Despite the fact that many of us will gradually lose our ability to hear as we as a society grow older, many of us don’t actually know that much about the causes and consequences of deafness.

What does the world sound like to a deaf person? How do the brain and ears work together to make sense of sound? And how far have scientists come in helping to restore impaired hearing?

In this edition of Discovery, Dr Carinne Piekema speaks with Harry Thomas who has been deaf since birth along with experts in the field of auditory neuroscience to find out about what it is like living with hearing loss on a personal and scientific level. By recreating everyday sounds as if heard by someone like Harry wearing a hearing aid or with a cochlear implant, she will also try to give a sense of the experience of being a deaf person in our noisy environment.


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