"Hear Here, Hear There, Hear Everywhere": Successful Characteristics for Hearing Screening Apps Used for Telepractice
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Clients who receive speech-language intervention via telepractice must have a hearing screening prior to any intervention. This study investigates which factors are essential for a successful hearing screening smart device app. The study also evaluates whether existing apps can be considered a valid “hearing screening.” The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) considers “best practice” to have certified personnel perform a hearing screening before intervention. Access to appropriate personnel is limited in rural domestic areas and internationally. The use of hearing screening apps has been researched, but more research is necessary to test the efficacy and accuracy of currently available apps.
Evidence-based practice evaluates published research, client perspectives, and perspectives of professionals. Following the framework of evidence-based practice, responses of two groups of participants were analyzed to determine essential factors for successful apps: potential clients and professionals. Both groups of participants self-administered all three hearing screening apps and were surveyed over the apps’ accuracy, user-friendliness, and ability to explain results. Additionally, professional participants were interviewed to gather additional information about specific factors clinicians preferred overall in all the apps.
Potential clients and professionals’ survey results indicate that both potential clients and professionals agree that a successful app that ranks higher must be user-friendly and accurate. Professional participants reported that more explicit instructions, an audiogram summarizing results, and more accessible features for people with disabilities would help improve the perceived success of the apps. Both potential clients and professionals agree that the apps are accurate enough to call “hearing screenings.” Future studies are needed to test the validity of the apps.