Hearing Loss & Deafness

How We Hear
Sound travels through the air as vibrations or waves. The eardrum is similar to a drum; it is a membrane that stretches across the ear canal at the threshold between the outer ear and middle ear. When sound waves hit the eardrum, the eardrum vibrates and sends the vibrations to the middle ear, where they pass through, in order, the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. These three bones are the tiniest bones in the human body. The stirrup passes the vibrations along the cochlea, in the inner ear. The inner part of the cochlea is lined with thousands of hair cells, called cilia. When the cochlea vibrates, the cilia move, stimulating the auditory nerve, which sends the vibrations to the brain. The brain then interprets them as sound.

To see an open-captioned annimated video on how the ear processes sound, click here.

Find out about medical conditions that may lead to hearing loss by clicking here.
Learn more about ototoxic drugs and how they can affect your hearing by clicking here.
Do you know someone with a hearing loss?  Click here to learn communication strategies for persons with a hearing loss.
Did you know that assistance animals also work with people who have a hearing loss? Find out more about hearing dogs by clicking here.
NVRC offers a three-part educational series entitled “I Can’t Hear You!” If you want more information on this program click here.
How We Hear