Unidentified childhood hearing loss has historically been shown to dramatically deteriorate educational achievement and ultimately vocational outcomes as all formal learning activities in school environments are mediated through the sense of hearing. Even minimal and unilateral permanent hearing loss may result in poor educational test performance, higher incidence of failed grades and greater dysfunction in aspects such as behaviour, energy, self-esteem and socio-emotional ability.
In many cases school-entry screening may actually be the first point of access to detect childhood hearing loss where limited legislation or healthcare mandates are available to conduct hearing screening on new-borns and infants
What is hearing screening?
Screening is the process of detecting among apparently healthy persons, individuals who with a greater probability of having a hearing impairment so they may be referred for further evaluation.
Audiometry for hearing screening typically determines whether a person responds to predetermined frequencies and intensity levels at which stimuli are presented. A specific pass/fail criterion is applied to all results and the possibility of a hearing impairment or the absence thereof is a “YES/NO” process. A “pass” result indicates no need for further testing, but a “fail” requires referral for further testing by an audiologist.
Heidi Allan and her Reconnect Lifestyle Hearing and Speech Therapy Solutions team conduct hearing screening at more than 20 schools in the great Durban area, sometimes even venturing to Underberg, where the Durban team encountered a slightly cooler climate than what they were used to.
SCHOOL-AGE HEARING SCREENING
By Faheema Mahomed
Lecturer in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology, Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, University of Pretoria
Manager at Swedish Rotary Hearing Aid Centre in Nyeri, Kenya
Diploma in Hearing Aid Acoustics
Co-author and Editor:
De Wet Swanepoel PhD
Professor – Department of Communication Pathology University of Pretoria