UT Speech and Hearing Center Offers Free Screenings to Children with Hearing Loss
AUSTIN, Texas — Feb. 9, 2017 -- Through a new program in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, Central Texans can now access free screenings to identify children with possible speech or language delays and to determine whether children with hearing loss are reaching their speech and language milestones.
Made possible through a grant from Sertoma Inc., a national nonprofit service organization with the mission to improve hearing health, screenings are conducted at the UT Speech and Hearing Center, with program facilitators willing to implement services at other locations throughout the Austin region.
Screenings are available in English and Spanish to children ages 3 to 8 years old, with the primary aim to provide services for underserved communities, those with limited insurance coverage and the need for more trained bilingual speech language pathologists.
In addition, bilingual speech pathologist graduate students earn valuable experience by assisting the implementation of screenings.
“There are few speech language pathologists who specialize in working with children with hearing loss,” said Madhu Sundarrajan, grant recipient and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “There are even fewer who are bilingual, and this is a critical need in the field.”
The program began with an anticipated screening rate of five to 10 children per week, with the goal to serve a total of 300 to 450 children annually and a future goal to continue the project and expand services to pediatric patients of all ages.
Standardized tools implemented to children include the Preschool Language Scale-5 screening test along with conversational samples for speech and language proficiency and analysis and the ability to tell a narrative and answer questions based on the story. Informal ratings of voice, pitch and fluency also determine need for further evaluation.
Caregivers of children failing a screening are also counseled on the need for further evaluations and offered options for additional treatment.