Glossary Terms: H

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 Hair Cells
Sensory cells of the inner ear, which are topped with hair-like structures, the stereocilia, and which transform the mechanical energy of sound waves into nerve impulses.

Haptic Sense
Sense of physical contact or touch.

Instrument for measuring sensitivity to touch.

Hard of Hearing
Hearing loss severe enough to interfere with school or work. Hard-of-hearing people can typically process speech and language quite well with the help of an auditory device, such as a hearing aid. 

Series of events in which sound waves in the air are converted to electrical signals, which are sent as nerve impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted.

Hearing Aid
Electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear. A hearing aid usually consists of a microphone, amplifier, and receiver.
Hearing Disorder - disruption in the normal hearing process that may occur in outer, middle, or inner ear, whereby sound waves are not converted to electrical signals and nerve impulses are not transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

Hearing Impaired
Refers to persons with any degree of hearing loss, from mild to profound, including deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. This term is losing acceptance by deaf persons because of the term "impaired" which connotes negative meaning. The preferred term is "deaf and/or hard of hearing".

Hearing Loss
Hearing loss was originally defined in medical terms before the development of modern audiology. Today, professionals tend to use the consistent, research-based terminology of audiology. The following numerical values are based on the average of the hearing loss at three frequencies: 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz, in the better ear without amplification. The numerical values for the seven categories vary among professionals.

Normal Hearing (-10 dB to 15 dB)
Slight loss (16 dB to 25 dB)
Mild loss (26 dB to 30 dB)
Moderate (31 dB to 50 dB)
Moderate/Severe (51 dB to 70 dB)
Severe loss (71 dB to 90 dB)
Profound loss (91 dB or more)

Hearing Screening
Simple testing of the ability to hear selected frequencies at intensities within normal hearing limits. Screenings are used to identify individuals with significant hearing loss and to refer them for further testing.

Hereditary Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss passed down through generations of a family.

Hertz (Hz)
This is the generally used term for measuring pitch, expressing the vibrations or cycles per second. Most speech sounds fall within the so-called "speech range" of about 300 to 3000 Hz.

Abnormally rough or harsh-sounding voice caused by vocal abuse and other disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux, thyroid problems, or trauma to the larynx (voice box).

Diminished sensitivity to taste.

Diminished sensitivity to smell.