Hearing Loss - Beyond Early Childhood

Roles and Responsibilities of Audiologists

Audiologists play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with hearing loss. The professional roles and activities in audiology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), prevention and advocacy, education, administration, and research. See ASHA's Scope of Practice in Audiology (ASHA, 2018).

Appropriate roles for audiologists include:

  • educating other professionals on the needs of persons with hearing loss and the role of audiologists in diagnosing and managing persons with hearing loss;
  • participating in the development, training of personnel, and management of screening programs;
  • conducting a comprehensive assessment of hearing, auditory function, balance, and related systems;
  • administration and interpretation of tests for central auditory processing, including behavioral and electrophysiologic measures;
  • diagnosing the presence or absence of hearing loss;
  • referring the patient to other professionals as needed to rule out other conditions, determine etiology, and facilitate access to comprehensive services;
  • evaluating individuals with hearing loss for candidacy for amplification and other sensory devices and assistive technology;
  • developing a culturally appropriate audiologic rehabilitative management plan;
  • fitting and maintaining amplification and other sensory devices and assistive technology for optimal use;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of hearing assistive technology in home, work or school settings;
  • creating documentation, including interpreting data and summarizing findings and recommendations;
  • providing (re)habilitation services including auditory training and speech reading;
  • training and ongoing supervision of support personnel;
  • advocating for the communication needs of all individuals, including advocating for the rights and funding of services for those with hearing loss or auditory and/or vestibular disorders;
  • counseling persons with hearing loss and their families on the psychosocial aspects of hearing loss and other auditory dysfunction, modes of communication, and processes to enhance communication competence;
  • providing prevention information, promoting hearing wellness, and monitoring the acoustic environment;
  • collaborating with professionals, family members, caregivers, and others and serving as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals with hearing loss and their families and caregivers;
  • remaining informed of research in the area of hearing loss and helping advance the knowledge base related to hearing aids;
  • remaining informed of federal and state mandates and initiatives (e.g. IDEA, 504 plans, Common Core State Standards, Universal Design for Learning, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, and approved accommodations) that impact educational programming for students with hearing loss;
  • remaining current on new classroom technology and accommodations designed to facilitate access to classroom instruction for students with hearing loss;
  • consulting about accessibility for persons with hearing loss in public and private buildings, programs, and services and on the development of products and instrumentation related to the measurement and management of auditory function;
  • case management and serving as a liaison for consumers, families, and agencies in order to monitor audiologic status and management and to make recommendations about educational and vocational programming;
  • consulting to industry on the development of products and instrumentation related to the measurement and management of auditory function.

As indicated in the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2010), audiologists who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so.

Roles and Responsibilities of SLPs

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a role in the identification, screening, assessment, and rehabilitation of individuals with hearing loss and refer individuals suspected of having hearing loss to an audiologist for a complete audiologic assessment. Professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services, prevention and advocacy, education, administration, and research. See ASHA's Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (ASHA, 2016). As indicated in the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2010), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so.

SLPs have the specialized preparation, experiences, and opportunities to address communication effectiveness, disorders, differences, and delays that result from a variety of factors, including those that may be related to hearing loss. SLPs have the knowledge and skills to address the complex interplay of the areas of listening, speaking, signing, reading, writing, and thinking. Furthermore, they understand how skill expansion in one of these components enhances performance in another area, ultimately contributing to the overall development of literacy and learning.

Appropriate roles for speech language pathologists include:

  • understanding the effects of hearing loss on communicative development;
  • assessing communication skills and intervention with individuals with hearing loss;
  • establishing augmentative and alternative communication techniques and strategies, including developing, selecting, and prescribing such systems and devices;
  • providing services to individuals with hearing loss and their families/caregivers (e.g., auditory training, speechreading, speech and language intervention secondary to hearing loss, visual inspection and listening checks of amplification devices for the purpose of troubleshooting, and verification of appropriate battery voltage);
  • using instrumentation to observe, collect data, and measure parameters of communication in accordance with the principles of evidence-based practice;
  • selecting, fitting, and establishing effective use of prosthetic/adaptive devices for communication.

Content Disclaimer: The Practice Portal, ASHA policy documents, and guidelines contain information for use in all settings; however, members must consider all applicable local, state and federal requirements when applying the information in their specific work setting.