Hearing tests are just child’s play: the sound scouts game for children entering school

Harvey Dillon, Carolyn Mee, Jesus Cuauhtemoc Moreno, John Seymour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To create a hearing test useable without the involvement of a clinician or calibrated equipment, suitable for children aged 5 or older. Design: The tablet-based app (Sound Scouts) includes tests of speech in quiet, speech in noise and tones in noise, all embedded in game designed to maintain attention. Data were collected to intelligibility-equalize the stimuli, establish normative performance, and evaluate the sensitivity with which Sound Scouts detected known hearing problems and identified their type. Study sample: Participants were children from age 5 to 14 (394 with normal hearing, 97 with previously identified hearing loss) and 50 adults with normal hearing. Results: With pass-fail criteria set such that 98% of children with normal hearing passed Sound Scouts, 85% of children with hearing loss failed Sound Scouts (after exclusion of children in either group who received an inconclusive result or had incomplete results). No child with four-frequency average hearing thresholds of 30 dB HL or greater in their poorer ear passed Sound Scouts. Hearing loss type was correctly identified in only two-thirds of those cases where the algorithm attempted to identify a single type of loss. Conclusions: Sound Scouts has specificity and sensitivity sufficiently high to provide hearing screening around the time children typically enter school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Early online date27 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • computer based
  • Pediatric
  • speech perception
  • tele-audiology/tele-health


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