PURPOSE : Sections of the community face barriers to accessing audiology services. The aim of this study was to assess the barriers faced by people in typically underserved community settings and to provide audiology services in their natural environment. Information gathered by questionnaire was used to determine each site's candidacy as a potential tele-audiology site. METHOD : Sixty-three participants were recruited across 3 community sites that were identified as gathering places for individuals who experience barriers to accessing traditional clinical audiology services. Information about demographics and participant experience with barriers to access was gathered by a locally generated, self-administered questionnaire. Pure-tone air-conduction audiometric exams were performed on participants with an automated portable diagnostic audiometer. Afterward, the investigator provided counseling regarding hearing loss rehabilitation or hearing protection. Referrals were made when appropriate. RESULTS : Pure-tone averages were similar within sites but varied across sites. At least 30% of individuals at each site reported they wanted to visit the audiologist more often. Each site reported different principal barriers to access, among them transportation, motivation, and money. Eleven individuals were referred to the next level of care. Questionnaire results revealed special accommodations should be considered at each potential tele-audiology site. CONCLUSION : The present study provided audiology services to individuals in their natural environment, identified many of the obstacles preventing individuals from pursuing traditional audiology services and provided information for the foundation of a tele-audiology practice.
Part of this work was presented at the Second International Meeting on Internet and Audiology, Helsingør, Denmark, September 24 25, 2015.