Audiology (from Latin audīre, "to hear"; and from Greek -λογία, -logia) is a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders. Its practitioners, who treat those with hearing loss and proactively prevent related damage are audiologists. Employing various testing strategies (e.g. hearing tests, otoacoustic emission measurements, videonystagmography, and electrophysiologic tests), audiology aims to determine whether someone can hear within the normal range, and if not, which portions of hearing (high, middle, or low frequencies) are affected and to what degree. If an audiologist determines that a hearing loss or vestibular abnormality is present he or she will provide recommendations to a patient as to what options (e.g. hearing aid, cochlear implants, appropriate medical referrals) may be of assistance.
In addition to testing hearing, audiologists can also work with a wide range of clientele in rehabilitation (people with tinnitus, auditory processing disorders, users of cochlear implants and/or hearing aids), from pediatric populations to veterans and may perform assessment of tinnitus and the vestibular system.
An audiologist is a health-care professional specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular system portions of the ear. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage and/or treat hearing, tinnitus, or balance problems. They dispense, manage, and rehabilitate hearing aids and assess candidacy for and map cochlear implants. They counsel families through a new diagnosis of hearing loss in infants, and help teach coping and compensation skills to late-deafened adults. They also help design and implement personal and industrial hearing safety programs, newborn hearing screening programs, school hearing screening programs, and provide special fitting ear plugs and other hearing protection devices to help prevent hearing loss. Audiologists are trained to evaluate peripheral vestibular disorders originating from inner ear pathologies. They also provide treatment for certain vestibular and balance disorders such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). In addition, many audiologists work as auditory scientists in a research capacity.
Audiologists have training in anatomy and physiology, hearing aids, cochlear implants, electrophysiology, acoustics, psychophysics, neurology, vestibular function and assessment, balance disorders, counseling and sign language. Audiologists also run neonatal hearing screening programme which has been made compulsory in many hospitals in US, UK and India. An Audiologist usually graduates with one of the following qualifications: MSc(Audiology), Au.D., STI, PhD, or ScD, depending the program and country attended.
The use of the terms "Audiology" and "Audiologist" in publications has been traced back only as far as 1946. The original creator of the term remains unknown, but Berger identified possible originators as Mayer BA Schier, Willard B Hargrave, Stanley Nowak, Norman Canfield, or Raymond Carhart. In a biographical profile by Robert Galambos, Hallowell Davis is credited with coining the term in the 1940s, saying the then-prevalent term "auricular training" sounded like a method of teaching people how to wiggle their ears.
The first US university course for audiologists was offered by Carhart at Northwestern University, in 1946. Audiology was born of hearing aid dispensers to address the hearing damage from World War II veterans.
In Australia Audiologists must hold a Masters in Audiology, Masters of Clinical Audiology or Masters of Audiology Studies or alternatively bachelor's degree from overseas certified by the VETASSESS. Audiologists in Australia are not required to be a member of any professional body. But to dispense hearing aids to eligible pensioners and eligible war veterans one must have two years clinical experience and be registered with an approved body such as Audiology Australia (AudA) or the Australian College of Audiology (ACAud). In Australia, by general definition an 'Audiologist' - is a University graduate with postgraduate qualifications in Audiology or equivalent training. Audiologists have broad responsibilities and expertise in all non-medical areas of hearing services including complex hearing assessment and rehabilitation of hearing impairment (which includes hearing aid prescription, fitting and management). An 'Audiometrist' - has completed a TAFE Certificate Course in hearing aid audiometry and/or received in-house training from the hearing aid industry.
Audiology Australia via The Code of Ethics and the Practice Standards, governs the professional practice of audiology for members of Audiology Australia. To meet these high standards Members undertake professional development to enable them to maintain appropriate skills and learning in their areas of professional practice. The purpose of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program is to provide a structure that enables members to formally document the ways in which they manage and extend their professional skills and knowledge. The Audiology Australia CPD program provides recognition and encouragement for the continuing participation of the members in high quality professional development. The CPD program enable members to demonstrate to external stakeholders (clients, employers, government, the community and other professional groups) their commitment to the highest standards of professional competence for Audiologists. The CPD program is focused on maintaining a high quality practice of audiology and is tied to the Certificate of Clinical Practice (CCP). Audiology Australia members who are not engaged in clinical practice are not required to formally document their CPD and will not be issued with a Certificate of Clinical Practice. ACAud Members are required to demonstrate their professional competence and are assessed against ACAud’s Professional Competency Standards. Recognised Competencies are shown on a Member’s Certificate of Competency that is prominently displayed in the Member’s clinic and renewed annually.
There are six Universities in Australia that offer graduate programs (via course work and/or research degrees) in Audiology for local and overseas students. All programs offered are recognised as eligible for membership of the Society - Audiology Australia and the International Society of Audiology (ISA).
- University of Western Australia
- University of Melbourne
- Flinders University
- La Trobe University
- Macquarie University
- University of Queensland
In Canada, a Masters of Science (M.Sc.) is the minimum requirement to practice Audiology in the country. The profession is regulated in certain provinces: New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, where it is illegal to practice without being registered as a full member in the appropriate provincial regulatory body.
There are currently five universities in Canada which offer graduate programs in Audiology. Entry requirements typically include specific prerequisite course work in undergraduate studies (usually in phonetics, phonology, acoustics, developmental psychology, perception, anatomy, statistics, physics and research methods) or an additional preparatory year prior to entry into the program and a competitive GPA in the bachelor's degree. The following universities offer the MSc in audiology:
- University of British Columbia (BC)
- Université de Montréal (QC) - French instruction
- University of Western Ontario (ON)
- University of Ottawa (ON) - French instruction
- Dalhousie University (NS)
The Government of India established the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, which has become the country's leading Institute in the field of communication disorders since 1966. The second Audiology & Speech Language Therapy program was started in the same year, at T.N.Medical College and BYL Nair Ch.Hospital in Mumbai. There are currently 20 Universities in India which provide Speech Pathology and Audiology programs. These programs are accredited by Rehabilitation council of India.
To practice audiology, professionals need to have either Bachelors/Master's degree in Audiology and be registered with Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Indian speech and hearing association (ISHA) is a professional platform of the audiologist and speech language pathologists where annual conferences are held. The educational institutions awarding degrees need to attain recognition from RCI. Presently there are around 70 institutions which offer at least a graduate degree in the field (BASLP). Approximately 20 colleges offer higher degrees such as MASLP, M.Sc Audiology and Speech Language Pathology. Few such eminent institutions in Northern India are Guru Gobind Singh Medical College located in Faridkot of Punjab, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai in western India and many more. There are nearly 1000 or more private clinics in India providing speech and hearing services.
An internationally recognized degree, unique multilingual/multicultural background, excellent communication in English has increased the global demand of Indian Audiologists considering the shortage of these graduates especially in western countries. However, in recent times, the profession has been plagued by introduction of short term diploma programs which has resulted in dilution of services particularly in hearing aid dispensing and there have been mass protests by speech and hearing fraternity to stop such courses and curb malpractices.
There are only 3 Malaysian educational institutions offering degrees in Audiology:
- University Kebangsaan Malaysia
- University Science Malaysia
- International Islamic University Malaysia
There are currently three routes to becoming a Registered Audiologist:
- BSc in Audiology
- MSc in Audiology
- Fast track conversion Diploma for those with a BSc in other relevant science subject, available at Southampton, Manchester, UCL, London and Edinburgh
- BSc(Hons) in Clinical Physiology (Audiology) available at Glasgow Caledonian University. All applicants must be NHS employees.
There are 10 United Kingdom educational institutions offering degrees in Audiology:
- Anglia Ruskin University
- De Montfort University
- University of Manchester
- University of Leeds
- Aston University
- Queen Margaret University
- University of Southampton
- Swansea University
- Middlesex University
- University College London
In the United States, audiologists are regulated by state licensure or registration in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Starting in 2007, the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) became the entry-level degree for clinical practice for some states, with most states expected to follow this requirement very soon, as there are no longer any professional programs in audiology which offer the master's degree. Minimum requirements for the Au.D. degree include a minimum of 75 semester hours of post-baccalaureate study, meeting prescribed competencies, passing a national exam offered by Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service, and practicum experience that is equivalent to a minimum of 12 months of full-time, supervised experience. Most states have continuing education renewal requirements that must be met to stay licensed. Audiologists can also earn a certificate from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or seek board certification through the American Board of Audiology (ABA). Most states also require a Hearing Aid Dispenser License to enable the Audiologist to dispense hearing aids, though legislation is currently underway in many states which would not require this extra step. It would allow Audiologists to dispense under their Audiology license. Currently there are over 70 Au.D. programs in the United States:
Distance Au.D. Programs:
Residential Au.D. Programs:
In the past, audiologists have typically held a master's degree and the appropriate healthcare license. However, in the 1990s the profession began to transition to a doctoral level as a minimal requirement. In the United States, starting in 2007, audiologists were required to receive a doctoral degree (Au.D. or Ph.D.) in audiology from an accredited university graduate or professional program before practicing. All states require licensing, and audiologists may also carry national board certification from the American Board of Audiology or a certificate of clinical competence in audiology (CCC-A) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Audiologists are autonomous practitioners and do not need physician orders or supervision. However, many audiologists work in doctor's office and hospitals. The median salary for an audiologist in the United States is approximately $65,500 in 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Audiologists who earn over $98,880 (top ten percentile) per annum typically have their own private practice.
- Gelfand, Stanley A. (2009). Essentials of Audiology (3 ed.). New York: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc. p. ix. ISBN 978-1-60406-044-7. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- Berger, KW (1976). "Genealogy of the words "audiology" and "audiologist"". Journal of the American Audiology Society 2 (2): 38–44. PMID 789309.
- "Hallowell Davis (1896—1992)" (PDF). A Biographical Memoir by Robert Galambos (National Academy of Sciences). Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- Raymond Carhart (1912-1975) Papers, 1938-1975. Northwestern University Archives, Evanston, Illinois. http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives/findingaids/raymond_carhart.pdf Accessed 2006-07-31.
- "Master of Clinical Audiology". www.studyat.uwa.edu.au. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Master of Audiology". www.flinders.edu.au. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Audiology Research - Linguistics". www.ling.mq.edu.au. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Audiology - School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences". www.shrs.uq.edu.au. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "CICIC::Information for foreign-trained audiologists and speech-language pathologists". Occupational profiles for selected trades and professions.
- Academy of Doctors of Audiology
- American Academy of Audiology
- Audiology Resources - Resources for audiology professionals and students, including a specialist discussion forum.
- Audiology Australia ®
- British Academy of Audiology
- Canadian Academy of Audiology
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
- National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association