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Hearing Screening Guidelines for Speech-Language Pathologists During COVID-19

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) frequently perform hearing screening of school-age children. The following guidelines are useful to SLPs who are conducting hearing screening in the school setting during COVID-19.*

This Decision Helper for Hearing Screening by Speech-Language Pathologists During COVID-19 chart [PDF] can be utilized to determine next steps for hearing screening. It includes speech and hearing milestone checklists/referral guidelines for different age groups.

In-Person Hearing Screening Tips During COVID-19

Equipment

Headphones

  • Disinfect anything that touches the student--this includes the headphones and cords. When possible, use alcohol-free wipes, which will avoid erosion and damage to your rubber headphones. Refer to EPA list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19.
  • Consider implementing the use of headphone covers; use a new set for each student. Using headphone covers would avoid the need to wipe down the rubber part of the headphones which can prolong the life of the equipment.

Response Buttons and Toys

  • Avoid response buttons at this time. Asking the student to raise their hand, clap their hands, or say “yes” when they hear the beep is a much safer option.
  • For screening of younger kids, sometimes toys are used for “play audiometry”. This should be avoided at this time. More time may be needed to condition the student to a contact-free type of response.

Extra Protection

  • When possible, use plexiglass between you and the student.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when testing in-person. You may need to talk louder when giving the child instructions due to mask attenuation of speech. Practicing good communication such as getting the student’s attention first and asking the student to repeat your instructions to gauge understanding will go a long way.

Plan Ahead

  • Now, more than ever, disinfecting equipment between students is vital. Make sure you build enough time in your schedule to disinfect your equipment after working with each student. If you are sharing equipment with other SLPs, you will want to disinfect the equipment after you receive it and before you use it for your next student.
  • Disinfectants that are appropriate to battle COVID-19 are in high demand. Make sure to stock up and schedule some extra time in case these items including headphone covers, and plexiglass are on backorder. 

Resources

*Note: This document is meant to provide guidance in navigating hearing screenings during a pandemic. Providers must continue to abide by federal, state, and local guidance and use their best professional judgment.

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