Communication Disorders Students Raise Hearing Loss Awareness for Capstone

Truman State University communication disorders seniors Allison Frey, Nicole Havel, Marissa McMahill, Cassidy Beck and Courtney Crow will turn World Hearing Day March 3 into a month-long event, with social media posts and flyers raising awareness about hearing loss and hearing screenings March 22 in the Student Union Building.
The group makes up Dr. Julia Edgar’s non-clinical capstone class. Frey said the students in the group are all planning to pursue different careers, such as audiology, speech/language pathology, special education and elementary school education. Havel said leading up to the hearing screenings, the group would be posting on social media about facts or common misconceptions surrounding hearing loss to raise awareness.
“Hearing loss is one, preventable and two, permanent. Once it happens, it’s not reversible,” Frey said. “But people are just unaware of all the different input they’re getting and how that can affect them in the future.”
Frey said all five students would perform the screenings March 22 with rented audiometers. An audiometer is a machine with headphones capable of playing tones at different decibel levels to measure hearing ability.
Frey said the group would use pure-tone testing, a test of the outer and middle ear to find the quietest sound one can perceive. The group will then compare that measurement to the expected hearing range, which Frey said is between 0 and 20 decibels.
Havel said the screenings were preliminary and did not include all frequencies of sound testing. Based on whether a user passes or fails the screening, Havel said they could be referred to an audiologist to get a full test done.
“It’s something that a lot of people overlook,” Havel said. “Hearing is something that is easily taken for granted, and it’s not very difficult to lose your hearing, especially over time. It’s not something that you would notice right away until you’re much older. We’re just getting ahead of it and making people aware so that they could take preventative measures if they so choose and reminding people that our ears are not indestructible.”
Havel said Dr. Edgar would also be present at the screenings in case the group required assistance.
Edgar said she gave the group three options to base their capstone on in class: World Hearing Day in March, World Voice Day during April, or Better Speech and Hearing Month during May. Edgar said she has taught the class since she came to Truman 11 years ago and has had students do projects for all of the dates both on and off campus. Edgar said the communication disorders major would give the students a strong basis in hearing health, so it made sense to her that the class would choose hearing for their project.
Edgar said she thought the project and the class were beneficial to the students as it allowed them to reflect on what they had learned during their time at Truman and gain experience that would help them during their graduate programs.
“This is really an opportunity for them to take what they’ve learned, then fully learn to work with one another,” Edgar said. “And not just on a class project that they present to their classmates but to go out beyond into the community.”