Speech testing is the measure of how well speech can be detected in each ear.
If you think you may be among the nearly 50 million Americans with hearing loss, you’ll need to be tested by an audiologist to make a positive diagnosis. Speech testing is one of the most common ways to determine the extent of hearing loss being experienced.
Involving a measure of the levels of speech an individual can detect, it’s usually done on adults and children who are old enough to understand the instructions.
What Is Speech Testing?
Speech testing is often done to confirm results from a pure-tone test, which only tests for the ability to hear certain pitches or tones. This is the type of test where a button is pressed or a hand is raised when certain sounds are heard.
Unlike pure-tone and other types of hearing tests, speech testing is sometimes done in both quiet and noisier environments. In some instances, it may be better to do the test with some background sounds since many people with hearing loss typically report having difficulty hearing in such environments. Speech testing that evaluates the overall effectiveness of the hearing system and related comprehension capabilities includes results based on:
- The faintest speech that can be heard half of the time (speech recognition threshold)
- Word recognition
- The ability to repeat back words
How It’s Done
Standard speech testing is usually done in a sound booth. It’s usually performed after pure-tone and bone-conduction tests have been done. The test may start off with complete silence before background noise is gradually added. This may be done to make a comparison of hearing capabilities in both quieter and nosier environments.
During speech testing, an audiologist will say certain words to an individual being tested who has headphones or earbuds on. Instances of the softest speech that can be detected will be noted as the test progresses. When it’s time to repeat words, the patient will be asked to repeat back what’s said at a louder level.
Depending on the circumstances involved, a patient may undergo multiple rounds of speech testing in order to get an accurate determination of hearing issues. There are no special preparation requirements, although some patients may undergo a basic examination of each ear prior to testing to check for earwax or other possible obstructions that may affect results.
How Does Speech Testing Help with Amplification Strategy?
Speech-in-noise (SIN) testing is a type of speech testing that’s done to help with the hearing aid selection process. With respect to amplification strategy, results can be used to:
- Identify what specific types of words can’t be fully understood
- Properly adjust hearing aid settings
- Know what kind of adjustments to make for background noises
Results from speech testing are often combined with results from other types of hearing tests performed by an audiologist, such as auditory brain stem response, otoacoustic emissions, and middle ear testing.