The purpose of audiological assessment is to quantify and qualify hearing in terms of the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss and the configuration of the hearing loss.
The audiologist will look at the outer ear (the pinna) checking for any malformation. The audiologist will use an otoscope, an instrument that contains a light and a magnifying lens, to examine the ear canal and eardrum. The ear canal is examined for the presence of excessive wax (cerumen), or foreign objects (food, toys, pieces of cotton swabs, etc.). The eardrum (tympanic membrane) is examined for any perforation and signs of fluid or infection. The audiologist will look for any indicators suggesting the need for referral for a medical evaluation and/or treatment.
The audiologist may also take measurements that will provide information about the status of the outer and middle ear. These are called acoustic immittance measures. Tympanometry, one aspect of immittance testing, can assist in the detection of fluid in the middle ear, perforation of the eardrum, or wax blocking the ear canal. Acoustic reflex measurement, another aspect of immittance testing, can add diagnostic information about middle ear function and hearing loss.
The audiologist will conduct tests of hearing tones. This is called pure-tone audiometry. The results are recorded on a graph called an audiogram. The audiologist will also determine speech reception threshold or the faintest speech that can be heard half the time. Then the audiologist will determine word recognition or ability to recognize words at a comfortable loudness level.
After the test battery is completed, the audiologist will review each component of the audiological evaluation to obtain a profile of hearing abilities and needs. Additional specialized testing may be indicated and recommended on the initial test results. Audiological evaluation may result in recommendations for further follow-up such as medical referral, educational referral, hearing aid/sensory aid assessment, assessment for assistive listening devices, audiological rehabilitation assessment, speech and language assessment, and/or counseling.
Each person will be counseled regarding the test results and any recommended follow-up. Follow-up may consist of a medical referral, close audiological monitoring, referral for a hearing aid evaluation, or referral for an auditory processing evaluation.
Every person who comes to ALLC for an educational evaluation will receive a comprehensive hearing evaluation in order to rule out significant peripheral hearing impairment.