Online Speech Hearing Test
There are many types of hearing tests to evaluate hearing from a speech perspective as opposed to pure tones which is the typical way hearing is checked. After all, ability to understand speech is the main criteria that people use to determine whether they need to get a hearing test or not and not so much how well they can hear beeps.
There are two different speech hearing tests offered here. The WIN (Word-In-Noise) test plays a background noise while presenting a word list of varying loudness. Hearing ability is determined by how many words are accurately identified and is NOT meant to be easy... even for a normal hearing person. In fact, if one correctly identifies ALL words in this test, you would be considered to have SUPER-human hearing ability. Video instructions can be found here.
The second test is known as the SRT (Speech Reception Threshold) and it determines what is the minimal loudness required in order for a person to understand speech. This test is performed without any background noise. Video instructions can be found here.
Both tests are best performed in a very quiet environment with headphones.
Quiet Room Check (Optional): Is Your Room Quiet Enough?
In order for any hearing test to provide reliable results, the testing environment must be quiet! The louder the environment, the greater the tendency for test results to show hearing loss where none should be present. A sound check ensures you are in a quiet enough room to accurately perform the online hearing test. In a home, the most quiet room typically would be inside a closet full of clothes. During this test, try not to make any noises for the duration of the test (about 8 seconds) when the average dB stabilizes.
Click here to perform a sound meter check!
If the testing environment showed either an excellent or good score, proceed to step 1. Otherwise, try to find a quieter room and repeat this step. One can still proceed with the hearing test even if the results show a poor score, but understand that the hearing test results may not be accurate.
Common speech hearing tests include speech reception threshold (SRT) as well as speech discrimination score (SDS) which are performed without any background noise.
Alternative speech hearing tests include those performed in background noise. More rarely performed in practice, these speech-in-noise (SIN) or word-in-noise (WIN) tests make "more sense" in that it provides information on how well a person can hear in daily life activities, especially for those who complain of difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments (ie, restaurants). Interestingly, how well a person performs on speech-in-quiet (SIQ) tests like the SRT and SDS do NOT predict how well the same person will perform on SIN/WIN tests. When an individual performs poorly on a SIN/WIN test, but has a normal hearing test, this may suggest "hidden" hearing loss or some type of central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). When performed in-person, SIN/WIN tests involve accurately repeating back a sentence/word while background noise is present at varying degrees of loudness.
When it comes to online SIN/WIN tests, one of the best studied example of online SIN tests is the Dutch website "EarCheck." The CheckHearing online WIN speech hearing test provided here is based on the Dutch EarCheck program, but of course in English along with other slight modifications.
Technical Information: For the WIN test, the noise is presented at 65dB. The word list used is taken from NU-6 and is presented at either 41dB, 47dB, or 59dB. For the SRT test, the spondaic word list used is taken from ASHA 1979 and is presented between 10-60dB.
For the SRT test, words are presented starting at 60 dB down to 10 dB. Once user answers 3 out of 6 words correctly at a given dB level, that is the SRT score.