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The National Hearing Test

An Over the Phone Hearing Test?

A woman's hands shown dialing a traditional telephone.Yes, there really is a hearing test that you can take over the phone—and it was developed with the help of the National Institutes of Health!

According to the website nationalhearingtest.org, the National Hearing Test is an accurate, validated hearing screening test that you can take over a telephone. The test has no financial connection with any products or services, charges a small $8 fee, and is offered free of charge to AARP members.

The site indicates that the test is not supposed to take the place of a visit with your audiologist, but that it is simply provided to help people determine whether or not they need a complete hearing evaluation.

And stresses that, even if you pass the screening test, if you have concerns about your hearing, you should see an audiologist.

How Does it Work?

Unlike traditional screenings that use varying tones, the test uses a series of numbers like, “1-7-3” spoken over background noise. The participant then enters the numbers they hear using their phone keypad. Each set of numbers is increasingly more difficult to understand. If you make a mistake, the numbers become more clear.

Once your test is completed you are told the results for each ear, using the terms, “Normal Range” or “Slightly Below” or “Substantially Below Normal.”

What Types of Hearing Loss Are Detected?

The test is designed to detect the most common forms of hearing loss–those that are age-related and those that result from exposure to loud noises. More specifically, it is designed to measure functional hearing ability, such as speech over background noise. It may not detect conductive deafness, hearing loss that results from acoustic neuromas, or other conditions. As the website indicates,

If you suspect you have a problem with your hearing even though you passed a screening test such as the National Hearing Test, you are strongly encouraged to visit a certified audiologist or other hearing specialist for a more complete hearing assessment. If you believe you have a hearing problem, the odds are that you are right.