Definition of an Audiologist*
Audiologists are autonomous professionals who identify, assess, and
manage disorders of the auditory, balance, and other neural systems.
Audiologists provide audiological (aural) rehabilitation to children and
adults across the entire age span. Audiologists select, fit, and dispense
amplification systems such as hearing aids and related devices.
Audiologists prevent hearing loss through the provision and fitting of
hearing protective devices, consultation on the effects of noise on
hearing, and consumer education. Audiologists are involved in auditory and
related research pertinent to the prevention, identification, and
management of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance system dysfunction.
Audiologists serve as expert witnesses in litigation related to their
areas of expertise.
Audiologists currently hold a master's or doctoral degree in audiology
from an accredited university or professional school. Audiologists provide services in private practice; medical settings
such as hospitals and physicians' offices; community hearing and speech
centers; managed care systems; industry; the military; home health,
subacute rehabilitation, long-term care and intermediate-care facilities;
and school systems. Audiologists provide academic education in
universities to students and practitioners in audiology, to medical and
surgical students and residents, and to other related professionals. Such
education pertains to the identification, assessment, and nonmedical
management of auditory, balance, and related disorders.
Scope of Practice
The practice of audiology includes:
- Activities that identify,
assess, diagnose, manage, and interpret test results related to
disorders of human hearing, balance, and other neural systems.
- Otoscopic examination and
external ear canal management for removal of cerumen in order to
evaluate hearing or balance, make ear impressions, fit hearing
protection or prosthetic devices, and monitor the continuous use of
- The conduct and interpretation
of behavioral, electroacoustic, or electrophysiologic methods used to
assess hearing, balance, and neural system function.
- Evaluation and management of
children and adults with central auditory processing disorders.
- Supervision and conduct of
newborn hearing screening programs.
- Measurement and interpretation
of sensory and motor evoked potentials, electromyography, and other
electrodiagnostic tests for purposes of neurophysiologic
intraoperative monitoring and cranial nerve assessment.
- Provision of hearing care by
selecting, evaluating, fitting, facilitating adjustment to, and
dispensing prosthetic devices for hearing loss including hearing aids,
sensory aids, hearing assistive devices, alerting and
telecommunication systems, and captioning devices.
- Assessment of candidacy of
persons with hearing loss for cochlear implants and provision of
fitting, programming, and audiological rehabilitation to optimize
- Provision of audiological
rehabilitation including speechreading, communication management,
language development, auditory skill development, and counseling for
psychosocial adjustment to hearing loss for persons with hearing loss
and their families/caregivers.
- Consultation to educators as
members of interdisciplinary teams about communication management,
educational implications of hearing loss, educational programming,
classroom acoustics, and large-area amplification systems for children
with hearing loss.
- Prevention of hearing loss and
conservation of hearing function by designing, implementing, and
coordinating occupational, school, and community hearing conservation
and identification programs.
- Consultation and provision of
rehabilitation to persons with balance disorders using habituation,
exercise therapy, and balance retraining.
- Design and conduct of basic
and applied audiologic research to increase the knowledge base, to
develop new methods and programs, and to determine the efficacy of
assessment and treatment paradigms; dissemination of research findings
to other professionals and to the public.
- Education and administration
in audiology graduate and professional education programs.
- Measurement of functional
outcomes, consumer satisfaction, effectiveness, efficiency, and cost-
benefit of practices and programs to maintain and improve the quality
of audiological services.
- Administration and supervision
of professional and technical personnel who provide support functions
to the practice of audiology.
- Screening of speech-language,
use of sign language (e.g., American Sign Language and cued speech),
and other factors affecting communication function for the purposes of
an audiologic evaluation and/or initial identification of individuals
with other communication disorders.
- Consultation about
accessibility for persons with hearing loss in public and private
buildings, programs, and services.
- Assessment and nonmedical
management of tinnitus using biofeedback, masking, hearing aids,
education, and counseling.
- Consultation to individuals,
public and private agencies, and governmental bodies, or as an expert
witness regarding legal interpretations of audiology findings, effects
of hearing loss and balance system disorders, and relevant
- Case management and service as
a liaison for the consumer, family, and agencies in order to monitor
audiologic status and management and to make recommendations about
educational and vocational programming.
- Consultation to industry on
the development of products and instrumentation related to the
measurement and management of auditory or balance function.
- Participation in the
development of professional and technical standards.
Outcomes of Audiology Services
Outcomes of audiology services may be measured to determine treatment
effectiveness, efficiency, cost-benefit, and consumer satisfaction. In the
future, specific outcome data may assist consumers to make decisions about
audiology service delivery. The following listing describes the types of
outcomes that consumers may expect to receive from an audiologist.
- Interpretation of otoscopic
examination for appropriate management or referral;
- Identification of populations
|a. with or at risk for
hearing loss or related auditory disorders,|
b. with normal hearing or no related auditory disorders,
c. with communication disorders associated with hearing loss,
d. with or at risk of balance disorders, and
e. with tinnitus.
- Professional interpretation of
the results of audiological findings;
- Referrals to other
professions, agencies, and/or consumer organizations;
- Counseling for personal
adjustment and discussion of the effects of hearing loss and the
potential benefits to be gained from audiological rehabilitation,
sensory aids including hearing and tactile aids, hearing assistive
devices, cochlear implants, captioning devices, and signal/warning
- Counseling regarding the
effects of balance system dysfunction;
- Selection, monitoring,
dispensing, and maintenance of hearing aids and large-area
- Development of a culturally
appropriate, audiologic, rehabilitative management plan including,
|a. Fitting and
dispensing recommendations, and educating the consumer and
family/caregivers in the use of and adjustment to sensory aids,
hearing assistive devices, alerting systems, and captioning devices;|
b. Counseling relating to psychosocial aspects of hearing loss and
processes to enhance communication competence;
c. Skills training and consultation concerning environmental
modifications to facilitate development of receptive and expressive
communication; d. Evaluation and modification of the audiologic