Deafness is often regarded as just a one and only phenomenon. Accordingly, deaf people are pictured as a unified body of people who share a single problem. From a medical point of view, we find it usual to work with a classification of deafness in which pathologies attributable to an inner ear disorder are segregated from pathologies attributable to an outer/middle ear disorder. Medical intervention is thus concerned more with the origin, degree, type of loss, onset, and structural pathology of deafness than with communicative disability and the implications there may be for the patient (mainly dependency, denial of abnormal hearing behaviour, low self esteem, rejection of the prosthetic help, and the breakdown of social relationships). In this paper, we argue that hearing loss is a very complex phenomenon, which has many and serious consequences for people and involves many factors and issues that should be carefully examined. The immediate consequence of deafness is a breakdown in communication whereby the communicative function needs to be either initiated or restored. In that sense, empowering strategies—aimed at promoting not only a more traditional psychological empowerment but also a community one—should primarily focus on the removal of communication barriers.
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Conflicts of interest: none.