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Glossary: M

Mainstream school

A typical primary or secondary school. A mainstream school may be maintained by or receive funding from the local authority. This includes fully state-funded denominational or faith schools.

Mainstream school with a specialist resource base

Some mainstream schools have a specialist resource base attached that provides support for deaf children or for children with a broad range of additional needs. Some children may be taught only in the specialist resource base. Others will take part in mainstream classes, have some classes in the resource base, or use the resource base for specific activities such as exams.


A simplified language programme which uses signs and symbols to help people communicate. Makaton was created by speech and language therapists and is designed to support spoken language. The signs and symbols are used alongside speech, in spoken word order.

Makaton is not a sign language.

Mastoid bone

Part of the skull that you can feel behind the pinna (outer ear).


Where an independent and neutral third party helps two parties reach an agreement. Mediation is a voluntary process and is not legally binding on either party.

Meatal tip

The part of the earmould or in-the-ear hearing aid that goes into the ear canal.


The part of the hearing aid or cochlear implant that picks up sound. This is usually positioned at the top of the hearing aid or speech processor and sits above the ear. The microphone often has a grill or cover over it and may be partially covered by the elbow.


An under-development of the outer ear (pinna). It can vary from minor changes (such as the ear being smaller than expected) to ‘classic microtia’ where the pinna is missing. Classic microtia is often associated with atresia (absence of the ear canal).

Middle ear

The middle ear is made up of the eardrum and three tiny bones known as the ossicles. When sound enters the ear, the eardrum vibrates and the ossicles pass these vibrations to the inner ear.

Mild deafness

A level of deafness where the person needs sounds at an average level of 21 to 40 decibels (dB) (averaged across speech frequencies) to be able to hear them.

Minicom (also known as a textphone)

A type of landline telephone with a small keyboard attached which transmits text through the telephone line. Someone using a textphone can communicate directly with other textphone users or with a voice telephone user via a text relay service. Minicoms are relatively outdated now as most people use mobile phones or Relay UK (an online text relay service) instead.


These generate energy for a cell to function. Each mitochondrion carries a short length of DNA with a few genes.

Mixed deafness

Children who have sensorineural deafness can also have conductive deafness, such as glue ear.  This is known as mixed deafness.

Moderate deafness

A level of deafness where the person needs sounds at an average level of 41 to 70 decibels (dB) (averaged across speech frequencies) to be able to hear them.


Hearing with one ear, for example using one hearing aid.