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Australia scores world first with most advanced telephone hearing test



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MEDIA RELEASE

Australia scores world first with most advanced telephone hearing test

17 January 2008

A new version of a special hearing test developed by Australian Hearing and its research arm, the National Acoustic Laboratories, is now the most advanced telephone hearing test in the world.

Australians will be able to determine whether they have a hearing loss by calling a toll free number and responding to sounds played over the telephone as part of a sophisticated, world leading service launched today.

The Minister for Human Services, Senator Ludwig, said the new telephone service, which uses breakthrough technology, would make it easy for the thousands of Australians who suffer from a hearing loss to determine whether or not their loss is severe enough to seek further treatment.

“Telscreen II has been developed in Australia by the country’s largest provider of hearing services, Australian Hearing, and the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL),” Senator Ludwig said.

“The telephone hearing test that forms Telscreen II is the most advanced telephone hearing test in the world and a credit to Australia’s ability to stay at the forefront of international research.”

As a leading authority on hearing testing, NAL has significantly re-engineered the testing process of the first version, Telscreen I, to produce Telscreen II, which NAL’s Director of Research, Professor Harvey Dillon, said provided a more sophisticated test.

“Telscreen II uses advanced psychoacoustic principles so that it can more accurately distinguish between a hearing-impaired person and a person with good hearing,” Professor Dillon said.

Senator Ludwig said the development of a simple test that enables people to call a toll-free number and be told whether or not they need to seek further help for their hearing is of huge benefit to all Australians, particularly those living in rural and remote areas.

“We know that one in five Australians suffers from a hearing loss and that it gets worse with age.”

“Being able to take a test in the privacy of your own home at anytime, from anywhere in Australia, is an example of the Australian Government responding to the needs of senior Australians and providing greater access to services for those who need it the most,” Senator Ludwig said.

People can access the service by calling 1800 826 500 toll-free and following the voice prompts.

Media Contacts:

John Noble (Minister’s Office)—0409 926 397 Rena Richmond (Australian Hearing)—0408 863 201.

Background

Australian Hearing is an Australian Government agency that provides subsidised hearing care to children, most veterans and pensioner concession cardholders. Australian Hearing has centres located in all States and Territories.

For more information, or to find your nearest centre, visit www.hearing.com.au or call 131 797.

The first version of Telscreen has attracted more than 60,000 callers since it was launched last year. Telscreen I was an improved version of a hearing screening system first developed by Dutch researchers and operated in the United Kingdom by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

Telscreen II uses a computer-generated noise that obscures speech for people with a hearing loss. The noise has a special structure that people with normal hearing can “hear through” by tuning into portions of the speech that the noise does not affect. Even people with mild hearing loss are less able to focus their hearing than those with normal hearing, which is why difficulty listening in noise is usually the first thing people notice when their hearing starts to deteriorate.