The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines impairment as:
“Any temporary or permanent loss or abnormality of body structure or function, whether physiological or psychological. An impairment is a disturbance affecting functions that are essentially mental (memory, consciousness) or sensory, internal organs (heart, kidney), the head, the trunk or the limbs” www.who.int
The term sensory impairment is therefore often used when referring to damage that occurs to the structure of the eyes or ears affecting the normal functioning of our vision and hearing senses.
Hearing and Vision Loss
Dual sensory impairment (or dual sensory loss) refers to a combined vision and hearing impairment (or loss).
When we talk about deafblindness or dual sensory loss, the proprioceptive and vestibular systems can also be impaired and may be included as “sensory impairment” in reports written by professionals.
Sensory impairment may be also be used more generally to describe an impairment to the other three of our five main senses such as touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory).