The Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic is committed to providing complete hearing care for you and your family. We offer comprehensive hearing evaluations and management of hearing loss for all ages. Our patients, as well as their family members, are an important part of our evaluation process. Communication assessments are balanced between our objective hearing test results and your identified concerns. Recommendations for care will be discussed and opportunities to obtain additional services can be arranged through our clinic. If there is an indication for medical treatment, appropriate referrals are made to a physician as necessary.

Hearing evaluation appointments are typically scheduled for one and one-half hours, Monday through Thursday. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 319-335-8736 or emailing WJSH-Clinic@uiowa.edu.

Hearing evaluations

Standard Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation: to prepare for a typical hearing evaluation, watch the video created by graduate student clinician Erin Kaufmann on the Access Audiology website.

  • Case history
  • Otoscopy
  • Speech testing
  • Puretone and bone testing
  • Word Recognition
  • Discussion of results and Future steps

Frequently asked questions regarding hearing evaluations

How do I know if I need a hearing evaluation?
Some of the most common reasons someone may seek out a hearing evaluation include a change in ear symptoms such as ear pressure, infection, tinnitus (ringing in the ear(s), or perceived hearing loss.

Signs of hearing loss include:

  • Difficulties hearing or understanding conversation
  • People sound like they are mumbling or speaking too softly
  • Misunderstanding what was said in a conversation
  • Needing to ask others to repeat themselves
  • Avoiding crowded places
  • Turning the TV or radio to a loud volume

It may also be beneficial to schedule a hearing evaluation if you are:

  • At risk for hearing loss due to loud noise exposure through your job or recreational activities such as hunting, attending loud concerts or sporting events.
  • An individual who needs tools to achieve your potential in the work environment through workplace assessments and recommendations on appropriate accommodations.

How long is a ‘typical’ adult hearing evaluation?
The typical adult hearing evaluation is scheduled for one-and-a-half to two hours, but the exact timing of the appointment may vary. We allow for plenty of time for testing and discussion between the patient, student clinician and clinical instructor.

What is the layout of a ‘typical’ hearing evaluation?
Our clinic's standard hearing evaluation procedure includes a few steps described in more detail below:

  • Case History: This is the first step in the hearing evaluation process where the audiologist/audiology student gets to know more about your hearing health and general health history. There are a variety of questions regarding any concerns you are currently having or have had in the past that may be related to your hearing, balance, and general health.
  • Otoscopy: Your ears will be visually examined via an otoscope to check the health of your ear canal and eardrum.
  • Air Conduction: earphones will be placed on your ears and you will listen for a series of beeps that will be presented at different pitches (frequencies) and different loudness levels (intensities). When you hear the beeps, you will respond by pushing a button, even if the sound is very soft. This test helps determine the softest levels you can detect sounds.
  • Bone Conduction: a small box (bone oscillator) will be placed behind your ear on your mastoid bone. You will hear the same series of beeps as in air conduction testing and respond by pushing the response button when you hear the sounds, even at the softest levels. This test helps determine the type of hearing loss, if there is one.
  • Speech testing: in addition to the air and bone conduction described above, you will also undergo a variety of different speech testing. The following are some of the more common speech testing that is completed at this clinic to assess your ability to understand speech in quiet and in noise.
    • Speech recognition testing: you will repeat the word the clinician states down to the softest level possible in each ear.
    • Word recognition testing: you will be asked to repeat a word in the presence of a sentence at a consistent volume in each ear.
    • Speech in noise testing: there are a variety of speech in noise tests ranging from single words to full sentences. These help assess your ability to understand speech in more complex and difficult environments, representing the more realistic situations in everyday life.
  • Immittance testing: there are multiple objective immittance focused tests that may be completed at your hearing evaluation. The two most common include tympanometry and acoustic reflexes (below). There may also be other immittance tests completed and it is not uncommon for your hearing evaluation to not contain immittance testing if they are not indicated as clinically necessary.
    • Tympanometry: A small rubber tip will be placed in your ear to and emit the pressure into the ear canal. This allows us to assess the status and functioning of your ear drum and middle ear system.
    • Acoustic reflexes: A small plug will be placed in both ears and a series of loud sounds will be presented. This assesses a reflex pathway and is used in combination with the other audiometric test results and symptoms
  • Communication needs assessment: We will discuss situations in which your hearing loss makes it difficult for you to communicate. For example, home with family, restaurants with friends, listening to the tv, or meetings at work. This will help us determine what treatment option is best for you.
  • Discussion of findings and recommendations: The final and very important part of your hearing evaluation includes the explanation of all test results. The main tool in helping us explain your results is called the audiogram. With this you will learn about the type of hearing loss and degree of hearing loss you have. Watch a short tutorial, "Understanding your audiogram" to understand what the results mean for your hearing. Your results will also be connected to your main listening difficulties to help you understand what may be contributing to your hearing challenges.
  • Treatment plan: Once you have an understanding of your hearing loss, the next step is to make a plan of action. Treatment plans are individualized and will depend on a number of factors. We focus on patient-centered care, meaning that it is our primary goal to provide our recommendations and work with you to create and treatment plan that will be the most beneficial to you.

Do I need to bring anything to my hearing evaluation?
Yourself of course! Other helpful information includes a list of current medications, any prior hearing evaluations and/or amplification devices, and your insurance information. (We submit insurance claims to a number of carriers.) Typically, you are encouraged to bring a family member or significant communication partner with you to your hearing evaluation appointment, however, due to the current COVID-19 situation we are limiting the number of visitors in our clinic. When scheduling your appointment, please check to confirm the number of guests you are allowed to bring with you to your appointment.

I have financial concerns about paying for hearing aids and audiology services; what help is available?
Read information about submission of insurance claims and other financial resources on the opening page of the Clinical Services page.