Much of the information provided on this page has been taken from Choices in Deafness: A Parents’ Guide to Communication Options (3rd edition), which was edited by Sue Schwartz, PhD (2007). This material is reproduced with permission of Sue Schwartz, PhD.
Who are Audiologists?
Audiologists are healthcare professionals that will be responsible for testing your child’s hearing loss. The audiologist will use several different hearing screenings that will help identify the level of hearing loss in your child. Based on your child’s performance on hearing exams, the audiologist is then able to identify, diagnose, and treat the hearing loss. The tests performed to diagnose hearing loss can be done through headphones or through a bone vibrator.
What is an Audiogram?
Once the audiologist finishes the tests, the results will be recorded on an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph that displays your child’s hearing capacity in each ear. It also shows how similar the hearing loss is in each ear and it informs the audiologist about what sounds must be amplified in order for your child to hear speech best. See the example audiogram below:
If you examine the audiogram from left to right, you will notice that the frequency (or pitch) is depicted. The audiogram examines the lowest pitch (125 Hz) on the far left and the highest pitch (8000 Hz) is on the far right.
When looking over the audiogram from top to bottom, you will notice the loudness is gradually increased. This ranges from very soft at the top to extremely loud at the bottom and it is expressed in decibels (dB).
Symbols are also recorded to depict the results for each ear of your child. The symbol for your child’s hearing in the right ear are depicted in red or with a circle, while the symbol for your child’s hearing abilities in the left ear are shown in blue or with an X. There are also special symbols that the audiologist uses to indicate if he/she covered (masked) their mouth in order to prevent lip reading while testing.
The further down the audiogram the symbols appear, the more loudness was needed in order for your child to hear.
What is the Speech Banana?
The speech banana refers to a banana shaped area of the graph where the majority of conversational speech occurs. Audiologists are often most concerned about this area of the graph because it depicts a child’s ability to learn verbal language.