Many years ago ASHA designated May as Better Hearing Month, and encouraged their members to offer free hearing screenings to people of all ages as a public service; and quickly other professional organizations such as IHS signed on; and every year many tens of thousands more people across America and now around the world are taking advantage of this offer.
With 11% of children ages 3–6 having a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder—and over 15% of school-age children — perhaps as high as 20% — experiencing some degree of hearing loss—communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in children nationwide. During Better Hearing & Speech Month your child can get these same hearing screenings adults receive; plus also speech production if a speech-language pathologist is consulted.
The basic hearing screening takes about 5-10 minutes, and consists of looking in your ear with an otoscope (oftentimes now video otoscope (photo to the right) so you can see your ears as well) to look for impacted wax, irritation, and look at your eardrums’ condition. Then, you’ll slip on headphones and listen for very faint sounds to measure your hearing thresholds; and also in many cases — and we at The Hearing Blog highly recommend — a quick speech perception test where you’ll repeat back single-syllable words presented using recorded speech. Then, the professional will go over your results, make recommendations, inspect your hearing protection devices (HPD’s), and forward your results to your primary care doctor or ENT to include in your medical records to establish a baseline for future needs such as if sudden hearing loss occurs. Also, in the event a medical condition is uncovered, the professional will also refer you to an otologist or ENT for appropriate medical treatment.
Where to go & what to bring along:
There are many thousands of hearing care professionals, including almost all hearing aid dispensers and audiologists, who participate in #BHSM. However, you’ll often get a better screening if the facility also fits hearing aids: As it turns out, hearing aid sales practices at both independent and chain offices are tightly regulated in every state, including the crucial test methods and equipment. You can quickly locate a whole list of nearby providers on the independent HearingTracker.com website, one of the various chain websites or other facilities we know well in the list below, or by googling “hearing aids near me“.
Before you leave for your annual hearing screening, print out this two page form and fill out the questionnaire portion on the first page; and also fill in your (or your child’s) Doctor’s name, address, phone and fax number, so the hearing professional can forward the results to him to add to your permanent medical records. Also, if you have seen an ENT, include that info as well. Even if your hearing is good now, it’s smart to have a baseline audiogram for down the road if trouble arises: For example, if you have sudden sensorineural hearing loss this baseline audiogram can expedite diagnosis and time-critical treatment. Also, if you wear HPD’s for work &/or recreation, bring them all along as well for them to be inspected, quickly cleaned, and also to verify you’re using them correctly, such as inserting foam earplugs properly. Also, be sure to discuss any difficulties you’re having with your HPD’s, such as the airtight seal breaking from the cheek weld with your long gun, as this has been a recurring problem with shooters.
Hearing aid chains offering free hearing health screenings:
- Miracle Ear
- Connect Hearing
- Livingston Audiology (Texas & New Mexico)
- Costco, free all year as a member service at locations dispensing hearing aids. They will also give you a copy of your audiogram for your records.
- The Center for Hearing & Speech in Houston
- Center for Hearing and Communication in NYC
[formerly the New York League for the Hard-of-Hearing from 1912 to 2009]
- The Auditory-Verbal Center of Atlanta — Check out their Talk To Me art exhibit May 3rd — 29th.
- The Hearing Blog’s printable #BHSM Hearing Screening Form
- International Hearing Society (IHS)
- National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA)
- Hearing care professional directory on HearingTracker.com
- American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Hearing Like Me (Phonak)
- Gun Goddess
- Big Bang Bling: Fashionable Gun Accessories For Women on CBSDFW.com
[Hat tip: Judy Rhodes in Dallas]