Providing the gift of hearing

Providing the gift of hearing

CAREER WATCH

FULFILLING PROFESSION By improving people’s communication skills, audiologists help make their lives richer, more productive and enjoyable.

Audiologists provide an important service to people of all ages and backgrounds in developing the most vital of human skills: communication. Their careers are well-respected, offering many challenges and rewards. Audiologists help people make their lives richer, more productive and enjoyable through improved communication skills. Their reward is to see the smile of delight and the look of wonder on the face of a child who hears for the first time. That is magical!

An audiologist:

- Diagnoses hearing difficulties
- Selects, prescribes, and fits hearing aids
- Designs and implements rehabilitation strategies for clients with hearing impairments
-Consults regarding noise exposure and hearing conservation

A Speech-language pathologist:

- Diagnoses communication disorders, both comprehension and expression
- Plans and implements treatment in language, speech, voice, and/or swallowing disorders
- Designs and employs augmentative and alternative communication
- Consults regarding language stimulation, inclusion strategies and teaching adaptation for students with language impairments

Why choose audiology as a career?

Employment prospects are good due to a large number of developments that include the provision of digital hearing aid technology and universal newborn hearing screening. There is also an increased awareness of the speech and hearing problems in society which means more people are coming forward with their problems. Hearing problems caused due to noise pollution and latest lifestyle gadgets also contribute to ‘noise-induced hearing’ problems thus requiring more professional help from audiologists.

Hospitals and rehabilitation centres offer good avenues for audiologists and speech therapists. They command the same amount of salary and perks as other doctors in government hospitals. An audiologist can also start his private practice by opening a Speech and Hearing centre. An opening in a special school is also another option. Also audiologists/speech therapists are in great demand abroad. Invariably most audiologists and speech pathologists go abroad in search of greener pastures.

A student interested in this field can take up a course at the graduation level. It is a B.Sc course of four-year duration. One needs to have a Science background up to Std XII. After graduation, Master’s in Audiology/Speech Pathology is also offered by a number of institutes in the country. At the Master’s level one can choose to specialise in both Audiology and Speech Pathology or in either of them.

Audiologists typically need to study the Medical Sciences, including Anatomy, Physiology, Physics, Hearing Sciences, Chemistry, Neuro-muscular system, and other similar topics. They must be detail-oriented, organised, and methodical. They must also be personable and friendly, since they often must deal directly with patients and clients. They must possess skills to effectively disseminate the diagnoses and test results in a manner understandable by the common man. They should have patience in handling the patient and help his or her family to seek appropriate solutions

Challenges

To work with children is to take on many challenges, using all the accumulated skills — diagnostic and counseling — of one’s training and practical experience. Using objective and subjective test measures, the audiologist gathers accurate information about the child’s hearing loss and amplification needs. The audiologist is part of a team of medical and educational professionals, all seeking to maximise the potential of the child from the earliest age and spanning over the entire childhood experience. Audiologists are bearers of difficult news for parents, coming alongside them in their grieving but celebrating with them in the child’s accomplishments over the years.

Adults present their own varied challenges to the audiologist. To be a good listener is a pre-requisite to finding effective solutions. The technology of hearing aids today is astounding, and is only improving. Digital signal processing advances mean better sound quality in challenging listening environments, all delivered within smaller, more discreet packaging that breaks down the stigma of wearing hearing aids. But technology is not always the easy answer. The psycho-social nature of hearing impairment is loaded with denial, embarrassment, and social withdrawal. The rehabilitation pathway includes counsel and support to the hearing impaired and to their loved ones.

Institutes offering courses in Audiology and Speech and Hearing Therapy
nDr S R Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing, Hennur Road, Bangalore - 560084, Telefax: 2546 0405 / 2547 0037 / 2546 8470
Email: dr.srcish@gmail.com

- Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing, 18, 1st Cross, 5th Main, Anandgiri Extension, Near Hebbal Police Station, Hebbal, Bangalore- 560024

Phone: 080-6535115051; Mobile: 9845018302; Fax: 080-23434915
Email: samvaadinstitute@yahoo.co.in

- All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore: 570 006, Mobile: 9844181080

(The writer is an audiologist, and Director of Rajan’s Speech and Hearing Center, Bangalore)

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