Hearing tests

There are a variety of tests that can be used to find out how much hearing your child has.

Why are there different tests?

There are a number of different ways of measuring hearing. The audiologist decides wich tests to use. This depend on how old your child is and their stage of development. It is possible to test the hearing of all children from birth onwards.

Newborn hearing screening

To identify hearing loss at an early age, hearing screening tests are normally carried out within the first few weeks of life. This can be whilst still in the maternity unit, at home or in your local clinic. Sometimes the test will need to be repeated and a referral made to an audiologist who will then perform more detailed tests to build up an accurate picture of your child’s hearing.

Click here for more information on Newborn hearing screening.

You can ask your audiologist for a copy of your child’s test results. You may like to keep them in your own file at home or take them with you when you visit the audiology department or ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor.

Tests include:

  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE)
  • Automated auditory brainstem response (AABR)
  • Visual response audiometry (VRA)
  • Pure tone audiometry
  • Bone-conduction
  • Speech discrimination tests
  • Tympanometry
Audiograms are charts onto which your child’s test results will be written.

Got a question about deafness? Have a look at our Parents' FAQs.

Understanding your child's hearing tests

Understanding Your Child's Hearing Tests

Front cover (credit: NDCS)

This resource is for families and gives basic information about deafness. It explains the different types and levels of deafness and includes information on the variety of hearing tests that can be carried out to check a child’s hearing. It also explains about the ear and how it works, different types of deafness, the different types of hearing aids, and audiograms.

Also available for download in the following languages.

Understanding Your Child's Hearing Tests (Bengali)

Understanding Your Child's Hearing Tests (Punjabi)

Understanding your child's hearing tests (Urdu)

Understanding Deafness (Welsh language)


Audiology appointment questions list

As a parent, it is important that you understand the hearing tests that are being carried out on your child and what the results mean. Below is a list of some questions you may wish to ask at your child’s audiology or ear, nose and throat (ENT) appointment.

  1. Do you have a copy of the most recent hearing test and the referral letter?
  2. What tests have been carried out? Will there be a need for further testing?
  3. What type of hearing loss does my child have (sensori-neural, conductive, or mixed)? Please explain what this means.
  4. Will my child need to be referred to another health professional? For example, an eye doctor or a geneticist?
  5. Do you think our family should have genetic counselling?
  6. Does my child need other tests? E.g. scans (CT, MRI), heart (ECG), blood, urine tests or eye tests. What will these tests tell you about my child’s hearing loss?
  7. Will my child’s hearing loss improve or progress (get worse)?
  8. What caused my child’s hearing loss?
  9. Do we and other members of our family need to have our hearing tested?
  10. What options are available for my child? (e.g. grommets, hearing aids or cochlear implants).
  11. Will a hearing aid help my child to hear?
  12. When will my child be fitted with hearing aids?
  13. Is a cochlear implant an option for my child? Where can I get more information?
  14. Will the hearing loss affect my child’s development?
  15. Will my child be able to hear me?
  16. How often will my child return for a follow-up appointment?