According to a report from the National Hearing Test Project, scientists have developed a phone based hearing test, called the National Hearing Test, to help people take the first step in managing their hearing health—with initial hearing loss screening via the telephone. The phone based National Hearing Test is administered by a company in Bloomington, Indiana called Communication Disorders Technology, in partnership with Indiana University and the VU Medical Center of Amsterdam, with funding from the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD). The National Hearing Test was created in an effort to help overcome some of the obstacles that appear to prevent people from getting tested for hearing loss, including cost, making an appointment, and driving to a care facility for an initial screening.
“Research shows that early intervention in hearing loss leads to better quality of life and greater success with hearing aids,” said Charles S. Watson, PhD, chief scientist for the test in the United States, and professor emeritus of speech and hearing sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington. “Consequently, it’s important for anyone who suspects they’ve suffered hearing loss to have their hearing tested and that a low-cost, convenient test be made widely available.”
The National Hearing Test Project reports that nearly 40,000 people have taken the test thus far, and hopes that this number increases to 100,000 by the end of 2014. The test can be taken at any time by purchasing an access code for $5 at www.nationalhearingtest.org, then calling the toll-free National Hearing Test line at (866) 223-7575.
The phone based National Hearing Test reportedly assesses a person’s hearing in ten minutes as either “normal,” “slightly below normal” or “substantially below normal” for each ear. While a test taker listens on the phone, the test presents a series of digits (sounds) that must be identified against a background of noise that may replicate challenging listening situations, such as hearing speech in noise during family dinners, large gatherings, and movies.
Test creators say the test is scientifically validated and can be taken at home, at the office, or in any quiet place with a landline phone. Test results are available immediately at the end of the test, and it is promised that there is no sales pitch afterwards. If a test-taker’s hearing is assessed as “below normal,” the National Hearing Test will suggest follow up with an audiologist or other certified hearing professional of choice.
Test creators emphasize that the $5 phone based hearing test does not eliminate the need for an audiologist.
“While the telephone-administered test provides an accurate estimate of a person’s hearing in the speech-frequency range, it is not a substitute for a full hearing evaluation by an audiologist,” said Dr Watson. “The [telephone] screening test is for those who suspect they might have a hearing problem, but are not sufficiently convinced to make that appointment.”
Source: The National Hearing Test Project, and Communication Disorders Technology