There are a number of reasons why as a parent you may want to have your child’s hearing tested. Maybe it was recommended to you by your family doctor or pediatrician. Maybe your child had a hearing screening at school and did not pass. Or maybe you are having concerns about your child’s language development or listening ability. Whatever the reason may be, you may be wondering where to go next. With this article, we hope to help point you in the right direction.
There are two types of hearing clinics where your child can have their hearing tested: public and private. Hearing tests at public clinics are usually free (they are covered by the province’s medical services plan), while at private clinics you pay for children’s hearing tests. Sometimes parents decide to go to a private clinic if the location is easier to access or if they can get an appointment sooner there than at the nearest public clinic.
Public clinics - that is, hearing centres operated by your local public health authority - could be either a stand-alone hearing clinic, a part of a larger public health unit or hospital, or a part of an ear-nose-throat doctor’s practice. These clinics will typically see children of any age.
In some provinces, such as Ontario, public hearing clinics require a referral from the child’s doctor to book a hearing test. But in some other provinces, such as Alberta or B.C., you can “self-refer” to these clinics, i.e. you can call them yourself to book an appointment. If you are unsure of the referral process where you live, you could ask your doctor or contact a public health centre near you.
Private practices, on the other hand, can be anything from a hearing clinic that specializes in helping children, to a hearing clinic that markets itself more towards older adults. Private clinics that specialize in testing and treating children are not common outside of larger cities; if you cannot find one, then you may want to inquire at a nearby hearing aid clinic.
Hearing aid clinics are easy to find – most towns have at least one, and they usually have “hearing” in the name. However, not every hearing aid clinic will see children. This is because children’s hearing tests are usually performed by an audiologist, and not every hearing professional has the title of audiologist*. Nevertheless, if you find an adult hearing aid clinic that is convenient for you, it may be worth asking whether they test children.
The procedure for testing children depends on their age. For most children over five, the procedure is essentially the same as for testing adults (e.g., “press the button when you hear a beep”). For younger children, the hearing test often resembles a game, and for infants under six months, the test is actually done while they are asleep using highly specialized equipment.
* The age at which the “audiologist” requirement no longer applies is usually between 16 to 18 years of age depending on the province. For example, in British Columbia, individuals 17 and over can be tested by any professional who is licensed to test the hearing of adults – which in B.C. would be either an audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner.
Find an audiologist
Note: The following resources are not necessarily exhaustive lists of audiologists. If you cannot find an audiologist in the following listings, you may want to try a web search, the phonebook, or asking at a public health unit.
Find a private practice hearing clinic in the Campaign for Better Hearing network:
The National Campaign for Better Hearing
Find an audiologist in BC:
Speech and Hearing BC
Find a publicly funded audiologist in Alberta:
MyHealth.Alberta.ca Audiology Services
Find an audiologist in Saskatchewan:
Find an audiologist in Ontario and search by age group served:
CASLPO Public Register
Find a publicly funded audiologist in Quebec:
Répertoire des ressources en santé et services sociaux
Find a private practice audiologist in Quebec:
Recherche d'audiologistes en cabinet privé
Find a public or private hearing clinic in Newfoundland and Labrador:
Where to Have a Hearing Test in Newfoundland and Labrador
Find an audiologist in New Brunswick:
Public Register - NBASLPA
Find an audiologist in Nova Scotia:
Find an audiologist - NSCASLP
Request an appointment at a public or private audiology clinic in PEI:
PEI Audiology Services