Early in 2002 California became the first state to define functional hearing requirements for those aspiring to public safety positions such as police officers, firemen, etc. Traditionally, pure-tone thresholds in quiet have been the primary measure for these personnel. However, these results are not highly correlated with speech understanding in noise. The latest screening guidelines adopted by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)incorporated the use of the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) to provide a more accurate measure of how a candidate might function on the job.
Developed by the prestigious House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, the HINT measures speech recognition in quiet and in noise to assess the subjects binaural directional hearing ability. This ability is essential for communication with speech in noisy settings and for other aspects of functional hearing, such as sound localization and recognition of environmental sounds.
During the HINT procedure, the subject is asked to recognize and repeat short, simple English sentences presented in quiet and in a noise background. The presentation levels are adjusted based on the employee’s responses until a ‘Reception Threshold for Speech’ (RTS) is established for each of four conditions. The applicant’s RTS values are then compared to established norms.
Conclusions can then be drawn, according to established interpretation criteria, as to whether-or-not an applicant should be restricted from being placed in:
- A safety-sensitive position that requires accurate and rapid understanding of whispered speech or speech heard through doors or windows; or
- A safety sensitive position that requires accurate and rapid understanding of speech in noisy environments.
- Tests conducted by qualified, nationally certified, California licensed audiologist.
- Standard threshold testing available if deemed appropriate.
- State-of-the-art, computer driven microprocessor equipment.
- Documented results immediately available to both employee and referring department.