April 13, 2004

Audiology program opens hearing aid clinic

Better training opportunities for CSUS audiology students as well as specialized services for local residents come together when the speech pathology and audiology department opens its new hearing aid clinic on campus this week.

The clinic, which will offer personalized hearing aid fitting and sales, is one of the building blocks for a proposed clinical doctorate in audiology, says speech pathology and audiology department chair James McCartney. It will also give students a chance to interact with clients that they would be likely to come across in their daily work – but who they might not necessarily get to work with in an internship.

“Students don’t see a mix of clients,” McCartney says, noting that most of the clinical work at CSUS involves testing children. “They don’t get to see adults who are coping with a hearing loss. This will allow them to experience what’s out there and round out their clinical expertise before an internship.”

Audiology professor Rupa Balachandran, who will oversee the clinic, says the specialized training will let students learn about an area of audiology where they may eventually want to work. Under supervision, students will give hearing tests and learn how to fit people with hearing aids. They’ll learn how to assist those who already have hearing aids but need adjustments or repairs. At the same time they’ll learn about the latest amplification technology.

“In the last five years the technology has changed so much,” Balachandran says. Today, hearing aids are digital, and most are programmable for a variety of situations so if over time a person’s hearing changes they don’t necessarily need a new device.

Because of the clinic’s location in the Maryjane Rees Language, Speech and Hearing Center, she sees bonuses for the clients as well. In addition to testing for and fitting hearing aids, Balachandran sees the opportunity to spread the message of hearing loss and amplification. “Education is a big part of audiology. The magnitude of hearing loss is widespread but modern technology is making hearing solutions better and much more affordable.”

Eventually they want to incorporate therapy, such as aural rehabilitation in group sessions, into the hearing aid service, and at no charge. In the meantime, she says, “It will be a place where people can come if they have concerns about their hearing. We can tell them if they do or don’t need a hearing aid – they might just need amplification for the telephone or the television. And we can talk to them about their needs. The goal is to provide a service to as many as we can.”

That service will also include post-fitting care.

In the beginning, the clinic will be open three days a week. Appointments for the clinic can be made by calling 278-6601. The testing, fitting and consultation are free for CSUS students, faculty and staff. Hearing aids will be sold at market value.

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