Britain’s University of Southampton has developed a new telephone-based hearing screening test that could help the estimated 100 million people suffering from hearing loss in China. The new Chinese version is based on a test that has been taken by more than a million people across Europe.

The telephone-based test was developed by the university’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) and is intended to reach the millions of undiagnosed Chinese citizens who have hearing loss.
The availability of a telephone-based test reportedly enables individuals to obtain an objective assessment of their hearing ability and hence guidance on whether they should seek professional assistance. The tests developed at ISVR are based on listening to triple digit presentations, such as “2-5-9,” against a background of noise and then pressing the corresponding numbers on the telephone keypad.

Correct responses lead to the noise level increasing, thereby making the test more difficult, while mistakes lead to the noise level deceasing, making the test easier. The overall test measures the highest noise level that is compatible with correct responses. Performance on the test reflects the main difficulty experienced in everyday life by people with a hearing loss, which is understanding what people are saying in a background of noise.

The test was developed by Professor Mark Lutman and Dr Guoping Li of the ISVR. Li commented in the press release, “This project will have a massive social impact in China. There are at least 100 million adults who are hearing impaired and this is the first adult hearing screening test via telephone made available in China.”

The original test, developed by Professor Lutman in ISVR, was in English and implemented by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (now re-named Action on Hearing Loss) in 2005. Subsequent tests were developed in Swiss-German and Welsh. A corresponding test for use over the Internet is also being prepared.

SOURCE: University of Southampton