Australia does playful science to scout hearing issues in AU$4m programme for school kids



Back to school in Australia this January means a free hearing test made friendly and easy through a scientific tablet game designed to detect a range of hearing disorders: "Sound Scouts".

Australia's government has initiated a new nationwide child hearing healthcare programme in line with World Health Organisation urges that children should have their hearing tested when they begin their schooling, and evidence from Australia's National Acoustics Laboratories that children often start school with hearing problems.

To sugarcoat the process, a tablet game called "Sound Scouts" lets children work through the 10-minute programme, while their results generate a report indicating possible issues and, if found, provide referral to a specialist. More than 1,000 children took part in trialling the game with the involvement of paediatric audiologists. Its design and research is the work of Australian Hearing, the largest Australian government-funded hearing aid dispensing company, which last year fitted more than 600 children with first-time hearing aids.

But the app is just part of the AU$4m programme to give free hearing tests to some 600,000 four-to-seventeen-year-olds. Among the key hearing problems it is designed to detect are sensorineural loss, conductive loss, and auditory processing disorder.

Source: ABC News