Alex O'Brien


Study highlights importance of hearing tests

Study highlights importance of hearing tests

Louise Carroll, chief executive of The New Zealand National Foundation for the Deaf, has said a child's literacy and academic potential could be affected by untreated hearing loss.

"It is the mild to moderate who can go through their whole life without being identified."

Formal hearing and vision screening is part of the New Zealand Well child/Tamariki Ora schedule that is undertaken at four years of age as part of the B4 School check.

Children who miss the B4 School checks are screened when they start school.

The foundation has been pushing the Government for the B4 School checks to become compulsory and has sent information to all schools in the country on the importance of the assessment.

When there is a concern about the hearing of any pre-schooler they should be referred to a free audiology clinic at Timaru Hospital by a Public Health nurse, their doctor or other health professional. 

She says that sixty per cent of childhood hearing loss is preventable. 

Carrol has also recently completed a PhD, which is yet to be released, on prisoners and their hearing through Flinders University, Australia. 

One in three prisoners surveyed were hard of hearing. In the general population, that figure is closer to one in six.

The prisoners Carroll spoke to had, generally, not done well at school and had faced social challenges. 

"Some had never had been hearing tested in their whole life."

She was also concerned hard of hearing prisoners could not fully access rehabilitation programmes as they could not hear the information.

"If you can't understand what is going on around you, how can you interact?"

Written by Esther Ashby-Coventry, first appeared on

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