Enhancing Ear and Hearing Health Access for Children With Technology and Connectivity Purpose Technology and connectivity advances are demonstrating increasing potential to improve access of service delivery to persons with hearing loss. This article demonstrates use cases from community-based hearing screening and automated diagnosis of ear disease. Method This brief report reviews recent evidence for school- and home-based hearing testing ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 12, 2017
Enhancing Ear and Hearing Health Access for Children With Technology and Connectivity
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • De Wet Swanepoel
    Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
    Ear Sciences Centre, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands
    Ear Science Institute Australia, Subiaco, WA
  • Disclosure: The author has declared a business interest in a company (hearX Group) that may be affected by the research reported in the enclosed paper.
    Disclosure: The author has declared a business interest in a company (hearX Group) that may be affected by the research reported in the enclosed paper.×
  • Correspondence to De Wet Swanepoel: dewet.swanepoel@up.ac.za
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar
    Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / International & Global / Special Issue: Select Papers From the Hearing Across the Lifespan (HEAL) 2016 Conference / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 12, 2017
Enhancing Ear and Hearing Health Access for Children With Technology and Connectivity
American Journal of Audiology, October 2017, Vol. 26, 426-429. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0117
History: Received December 8, 2016 , Revised March 15, 2017 , Accepted March 19, 2017
 
American Journal of Audiology, October 2017, Vol. 26, 426-429. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0117
History: Received December 8, 2016; Revised March 15, 2017; Accepted March 19, 2017

Purpose Technology and connectivity advances are demonstrating increasing potential to improve access of service delivery to persons with hearing loss. This article demonstrates use cases from community-based hearing screening and automated diagnosis of ear disease.

Method This brief report reviews recent evidence for school- and home-based hearing testing in underserved communities using smartphone technologies paired with calibrated headphones. Another area of potential impact facilitated by technology and connectivity is the use of feature extraction algorithms to facilitate automated diagnosis of most common ear conditions from video-otoscopic images.

Results Smartphone hearing screening using calibrated headphones demonstrated equivalent sensitivity and specificity for school-based hearing screening. Automating test sequences with a forced-choice response paradigm allowed persons with minimal training to offer screening in underserved communities. The automated image analysis and diagnosis system for ear disease demonstrated an overall accuracy of 80.6%, which is up to par and exceeds accuracy rates previously reported for general practitioners and pediatricians.

Conclusion The emergence of these tools that capitalize on technology and connectivity advances enables affordable and accessible models of service delivery for community-based ear and hearing care.

Acknowledgments
The author thanks the National Research Foundation (South Africa) for funding part of this research through a Competitive Programme for Rated Researchers (Grant #87757).
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