Sensory loss takes place when a person’s sight or hearing becomes impaired. For some people who have been born with a hearing or sight impairment the term “loss” is inappropriate. However many people who have spent their lives hearing or seeing and will experience a sense of loss if these abilities are affected. Very few people are totally deaf or completely blind so design for sensory loss should be about supporting remaining ability as well as compensating by using other senses.
Sight can help us perceive the world through image, motion and colour. On this website the term sight loss is used to describe those who are ‘blind’ and can’t see at all as well as people who are ‘partially sighted’ and might be able to see something such as shadows or hazy colour. Sight loss can mean people move around and interact with the environment by using alternative strategies which design can support. Sight loss has numerous causes relating to, accident, age, disease and dementia.
In our culture many forms of communication are built around the ability to hear. On this site hearing loss is used to describe those who are either deaf or hard of hearing. It is important to note that people with hearing loss living in care will have a board spectrum of hearing ability that ranges from mild to severe impairment. Hearing loss is one of the most common disorders to affect elderly people and has many causes.
Dual sensory loss or deaf blindness causes such a particular set of challenges that it is now considered as a form of disability in its own right. On this site we haven’t the resources to be able to cover dual sensory loss but we feel it is important to note that it is an area that is under researched, and we hope to encourage future work in this area.