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Deafness in the 21st Century

University of Manchester via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


Communication is central to human experience. For those who are born deaf this is the area most at risk. Unless you have personal experience of deafness in your work or a family member who is deaf you may never have thought about this topic. As deafness is invisible the 350 million individuals worldwide who are deaf, half of this is preventable, are at the fringe of many societies.

This short course will allow you to consider health, social and societal issues in relation to deafness. You will understand how the hearing system works and what can go wrong, particular challenges in low and middle income countries, about screening and diagnostic services, amplification including solar powered aids, challenges to inter-personal communication, sign language and positive stories about what deaf individual can and do achieve. This will challenge stereotypes and will promote a positive message about deafness in the 21st century.


1. Deafness: a global perspective of the silent epidemic
  • The global inequalities and implications for deaf children, young people and adults.
  • An introduction to the hearing system and basic physiology. 
  • Understanding the auditory system.

2. Preventable cause of deafness
  • Epidemiology of hearing loss in low and middle income countries.
  • Prevention of hearing impairment and disability, including noise damage, ototoxicity, age related hearing loss, middle ear disease and measles, mumps, rubella and malaria as causes of deafness.

3. Identification and assessment of deafness and amplification
  • Screening, diagnostic assessment, the potential and challenge of amplification.
  • The role of NGOs and manufacturing companies in provision of amplification.
  • Examples of practice. 

 4. Family Centred Early Intervention
  • Consideration of the international consensus statement on family centred early intervention.
  • Examples of how this can apply in a low income countries.
  • Developing early communication and literacy skills, empowering parents and working with the Deaf community. 

 5. Fostering interpersonal communication across language modalities
  • Use of signed languages
  • Speechreading
  • Spoken language
  • Facilitating communication 

 6. Possible futures: given support, what can deaf children and adults achieve?
  • Case studies of possible futures
  • Focus on international projects

Taught by

Wendy Mccracken and Helen Chilton


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  • A patient with quite less hearing strength do face the problems of understanding speech during noise around. Science has moved to such an extent that there are machines for sustaining your Deafness. Severe deafness may result in understanding things just through gestures.

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