Our school screeners have hit the ground running this year as our Hear to Learn – School Hearing Screening program kicks off for a very busy term one!
From finding insects in a child’s ear, to visiting the uniquely-named towns of rural Queensland including Comet, Dingo and Banana, to identifying a hearing loss and helping a child to reach their full potential… the life of a school hearing screener is always changing.
Senior Hearing Screener Matthew Gee pulled up a chair, opened his screening case and gave us a snapshot into his role at Hear and Say.
How a hearing screen works
“There are three stages to our hearing screening; an otoscopy examines the ear canal and ear drum, tympanometry tests the function of the middle ear, and pure tone audiometry uses headphones to test a person’s ability to hear sound important for understanding speech,” explained Matt.
“For children, we turn the pure tone audiometry into a game, pressing a button or clapping when they hear and a noise. The tympanometry is also fun as we can show the children the graph, often asking them if they can see the ‘mountain’ – the varying peaks of the graph indicating how their ear drum is moving.”
Another milestone has been chalked up for our Hear to Learn – School Hearing Screening program, with our 1,000th school visit.
It was the Prep classes of Windsor State School in Brisbane’s inner north who helped mark the momentous occasion, adding to over 63,000 students who have been screened through the program since it started in 2015.
Across the almost 300 schools visited throughout South-East and Central Queensland since the Hear to Learn program began – many with repeat visits – an average 23 per cent of students were found not to be optimally hearing on the day of screening. This includes approximately 13 per cent of students referred for further testing.
“By detecting hearing and ear health issues early, we are helping children to reach their speech and language milestones and reducing barriers to learning,” said Matt.
“Each year we make four trips to schools in Central Queensland, supported by Hear to Learn’s founding regional partner, Thiess. We love visiting these regional communities and delivering services that otherwise may not be easily accessible. Geography should not limit a child’s ability to learn. The big days and car trips prove to be a great team bonding activity for us screeners too – although I love a chat and have been told to ‘play the silent game’ on more than one occasion!”
The peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 had a significant impact on Hear to Learn. It was great to see all schools that had booked screening during the lockdown period able to be rescheduled for the end of the year. This year is also shaping up to be a big one, with only a few spots left available to book in term one and two! During these ever-changing times our screening team has been quick to adapt, following a range of COVID-safe processes including increased use of hand sanitiser, wipes and face masks.