What is a Hearing Screening?
In Ohio, each hospital and freestanding birthing center required to conduct a hearing screening on a newborn or infant shall, before discharge, conduct a hearing screening on each ear of every newborn or infant born in, admitted to, or transferred into a hospital or freestanding birthing center through the use of a physiologic test. The hospital and freestanding birthing center shall conduct a second screening on newborn or infant, if the first screening in either ear was a non-pass. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provides additional information on results and reporting of those results.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) shares the following information on hearing screenings for school-aged individuals in Ohio.
Preschoolers attending a school-based program shall be screened each year they are enrolled in preschool. Children who cannot be screened using approved and/or optional methods shall be referred to the primary care provider or audiologist.
School-aged children shall be screened at five grade levels: kindergarten, first, third, fifth and ninth grades. Students may be tested in additional grade levels. In addition, the following school children shall be screened because they have not been screened in accordance with Ohio Department of Health guidelines:
- Students new to a school (and not tested within the past 12 months).
- Students referred by a teacher or other school personnel.
- Students who were referred within the past year with no documented follow-up, regardless of grade.
- Students absent during the previous hearing screening.
- Students at risk for noise exposure (e.g., band, vocational education, industrial education, automotive mechanics).
- Students who request a hearing screening.
- Students whose parents request a hearing screening.
Students in special education classes will be screened at the ages that correspond to the grade levels required for all students (preschool, kindergarten, first, third, fifth and ninth grade). These children should remain in the screening program due to a higher risk of undetected hearing loss and may be candidates for optional OAE testing and tympanometry screening. If the student cannot be screened, they should be referred for a complete medical/audiological evaluation.
How is a Hearing Screening Performed?
The two common screening methods used with infants are otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) and auditory brainstem response (ABR). These tools can detect hearing loss averaging 30 to 40 decibels (dB) or more in the frequency region important for speech recognition, e.g., approximately 500–4000 Hertz (Hz). In the case of older children and adults, the most commonly used initial screen involves a pure-tone test. For additional information, please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website.
Where Can I Get a Hearing Screening in Ohio?
Hearing screenings for children may be conducted by:
- Audiology aides only under the supervision of an audiologist
- Speech language pathologists
- Speech language pathology aides only under the supervision of a speech language pathologist
- Registered Nurses (RNs)
- Nurses may delegate hearing screening to trained unlicensed personnel in accordance with the Standards of Delegation defined in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 4723-13
An opinion rendered by the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) legal counsel in 1991 concluded that professionals who provide hearing screening services to schools, whether as volunteers or contract personnel, must follow the testing requirements and methodologies that are approved by ODH.