Children and adults with auditory disabilities will find your playspace accessible, safe, and enjoyable when you keep a few considerations in mind.
The degree of hearing loss varies greatly from person to person. Approximately 1 to 3 children in 1000 are born with hearing loss, but many children also experience trouble hearing from colds and ear infections.*
Occasionally, plastic slides and equipment cause static interference for children with cochlear implants. Static isn't harmful but can give a shock to the child or make the implant temporarily ineffective. An audiologist can reboot the hearing device. Researchers are trying to develop plastic equipment for playspaces that won't interfere with cochlear implants (read more here).
Center for Disease Control, Hearing Loss Fact Sheet
Dotinga, Randy. (2006). Slides: A Playground Menace. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/medtech/0,70937-0.html
Drain, Alison. (May 2006). Engineers hope to provide smooth slide for kids with cochlear implants. Washington University in St. Louis News & Information. http://news-info.wustl.edu/news/tips/normal/7078.html
Greenstein, Doreen. (1998). Caring for children with special needs: Hearing impairments. NCSU Dept. of Family Consumer Sciences. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/pdfs/nc13.pdf
KidsHealth (2006). Central Auditory Processing Disorder. http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/ears/central_auditory.html
KidsHealth (2006). Cochlear Implants. http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/general/eyes/cochlear.html
Wikipedia (2007). Deafness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaf
(Photo courtesy of Kompan)