Audiologists hold postgraduate university qualifications (Masters [or equivalent] or Doctorate degrees). They are qualified to prevent, assess, treat (non-medically/non-surgically) and manage disorders of hearing, auditory perception, the auditory elements of cognition and balance resulting from impaired or altered function of the ears and/or brain in people of all ages (from newborns to the elderly) and their communication partners. Audiologists use behavioural, acoustic and electrophysiological methods to assess auditory function. They provide auditory therapy, counselling and auditory devices to treat or manage auditory disorders. Auditory devices prescribed and dispensed by audiologists include assistive listening devices, hearing aids and implants. Audiologists work together with many other healthcare professionals such as otolaryngologists (ENT specialists), neurologists, paediatricians, psychiatrists, general medical practitioners, psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and educationalists. Audiologists refer to those and other professionals when a particular aspect of person’s auditory disorder exceeds the assessment and treatment options within their scope of practice (for example, an audiologist might refer a person to an otorhinolaryngologists [ENT specialist] for the medical/surgical management of that person’s hearing disorder). Many audiologists employ or work in partnership with audiometrists. Audiologists may specialise in areas through experience, further university study, or engaging in ongoing education. Some professional associations may recognise specialist skills of audiologists who undertake further training or by reputation.
Any person who consults an audiologist can expect to receive a comprehensive assessment of auditory function and communication, appropriate to the extent of the presenting difficulties. For some individuals, that may mean receiving services that are audiometric, and which might also be offered by an audiometrist. For other individuals (e.g., children and/or individuals with auditory processing disorders or cognitive impairment), the need for audiologic assessment and/or intervention will be apparent from the initial contact and additional options such as communication training for the individual and others, implantable devices, auditory therapy/ training, environmental changes, educational services or advanced diagnostic assessments will be offered.