What is an Audiologist? This is a question I get all the time. The importance of hearing health is something that is usually overlooked by most individuals. It is extremely important for overall cognitive function, from memory and concentration to one’s ability to balance. Your ears help you communicate with one another, share ideas and emotions, enjoy music, learn language, acquire knowledge and interact with the world. So where does an Audiologist fit into this?
An audiologist is a regulated health care professional. According to the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Act, 1991 (ASLPA) the practice of audiology is “the assessment of auditory function and the treatment and prevention of auditory dysfunction to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment auditory and communication function.” Audiologists are concerned with the prevention, identification, assessment, treatment and (re)habilitation of auditory and balance difficulties in children and adults. Audiologists also provide education and counseling services for people experiencing problems in these areas.
An audiologist’s scope of clinical practice includes providing assessment, treatment, (re)habilitation and consultation services for: Auditory Function (hearing), Vestibular Function (balance), Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Auditory Processing disorders (listening skills), Cerumen Management (wax removal) and Prescription and Dispensing of hearing aids, cochlear and middle ear implants, and assistive listening and alerting devices.
According to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, s.31; “No person shall dispense a hearing aid for a hearing impaired person except under a prescription by a member authorized by a health profession Act to prescribe a hearing aid for a hearing impaired person.” Only two professions have the authority to perform the Controlled Act of prescribing a hearing aid in Ontario: audiologists and physicians. Simply put, this means that in order to prescribe a hearing aid, you need to be either a doctor or an audiologist. Others who recommend and fit hearing aids need the co-signature of a doctor or an audiologist. A Controlled Act is a medical procedure where there may be a high or significant element of risk or harm to an individual.
In the interests of accuracy and safety, anyone with, or at risk of, auditory dysfunction should undergo an evaluation by a clinical audiologist.