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About Deafness


Established in 1955, the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) has been serving the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community for the past six decades. SADeaf is a member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), and is supported by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and Ministry of Education (MOE).

The association is also affiliated, internationally, to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and, locally, to the Children Charities’ Association (CCA).

SADeaf will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year (2015).


To be the leading organisation in advocating equal opportunity, in all aspects, for the Deaf and supporting the Deaf to reach their full potential.


To assist the Deaf to achieve a better quality of life and to enable them to integrate and contribute to society.


Hearing loss is defined as being partially or completely unable to hear sounds in one or both ears.

It is also a poorly or commonly misunderstood condition. Learn more about deafness here – its causes, the types and degrees of hearing loss, as well as the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing people and how they cope in daily life.



In Singapore, every baby receives a hearing test at birth, which is known as universal newborn hearing screening. Research has showed that about 0.01% (or 1 of every 1,000) babies born in Singapore have severe or profound hearing loss, and about 0.05 (or 5 of every 1,000) have lesser degrees of hearing loss.Find out more about Universal Newborn Hearing Screening here.


Types of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss.



Conductive hearing loss refers to cases where sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the middle ear.



Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there is damage to the inner ear (called the cochlea), or to the nerves from the inner ear to the brain.



Some people have mixed hearing loss, which means they have both conductive and sensorineural loss in the same ear(s).


Singapore is the second fastest ageing nation in Asia after Japan. Persons over 65 years old will increase from 7% of the total resident population in 1999 to 18% in 2030. Age-related hearing loss is becoming very common and about 50% of those 80 years and above is expected to have significant hearing loss. (For more information, refer to SADeaf’s Mini Enabling Masterplan 2012.)


Levels of Hearing Loss
Every Deaf and hard-of-hearing person’s degree of hearing loss is unique. These are the general board bands of hearing loss and the extent to which sounds can be heard by those classified as such.


Mild Hearing Loss

Unable to hear soft sounds. Understand speech may be difficult in a noisy environment.


Moderate Hearing Loss

Unable to hear soft and moderately loud sounds. Understanding speech may be difficult in a noisy environment.


Severe Hearing Loss

Unable to hear people speaking at a normal conversational level. Even loud speech is difficult to hear or understand.


Profound Hearing Loss

Only able to hear very loud sounds. Most sounds are difficult to hear or distinguish.


Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many causes of hearing loss, some of which are genetic and others are due to external factors such as accident or prolonged exposure to loud noises. Hearing loss affects people of all ages.


Do download our brochure on Understanding Deafness for more information.



The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations which Singapore has ratified.

The CRPD protects the rights and promotes equality of persons with disabilities, including those of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people. The Convention mentions sign language and accessibility for the deaf seven times in five different articles. These articles are:

Article 2   –   Definition
Article 9   –   Accessibility
Article 21 –   Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
Article 24 –   Education
Article 30 –   Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport


Ho Ching

Singapore Association for the Deaf - SINGAPORE