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Screening/Audiological assessments

Screening tests of hearing are useful to determine whether members of a population require further audiological assessment. For example, the newborn hearing screening programme; see also SoundSpace Online - Newborn hearing screening. Adult hearing screening is currently being considered in many places. Please visit The Ear Foundation website page to download the report - Adult Hearing Screening: why wait any longer? 

          

A variety of audiological assessments are available to enable audiologists to test different regions of the hearing pathway in different ways.

Some of these assessments require the person being tested to co-operate and respond to a sound in some way (‘behavioural’ tests). The method of performing these assessments will vary depending on the age and ability of the person being tested. Other assessments – ‘objective’ tests – can be performed with limited co-operation from the subject by using a computer and sophisticated recording software to measure a physiological response to sound.

The aims of these assessments are:

  • To find the quietest sounds that someone can hear across the frequency range important for speech
  • To identify if there is a hearing loss
  • To provide evidence to explain the cause of any hearing loss
  • To enable appropriate intervention/hearing technology to be prescribed

The development of objective tests such as Oto-acoustic emission (OAE) testing and Evoked Response Audiometry (ERA) over the second half of the 20th century enabled hearing levels to be assessed in subjects who were not able to actively respond to sounds, including newborn babies. Newborn hearing screening is now performed routinely in many countries around the world and enables hearing loss to be detected and hearing technology to be offered at a very early age.