Frequently Asked Questions

What type of headphones should I use?
You may use any set of reasonable quality headphones. Do NOT use surround sound or gaming headphones as they will interfere with how the sound is delivered in the game and the results will not represent your child’s true hearing ability.
Can we use ear buds to play the game?
Yes you can use ear buds to play the Sound Scouts game. Better quality ear buds are preferred but not essential.
What do I need to do to make sure my child plays the game properly in order to get a valid result?
It is best to download the Sound Scouts app and view the instructional video prior to involving your child. When you are ready to test your child ensure they have eaten and been to the toilet. The adult needs to fill in some details about the child and then complete a short, simple, game-based exercise. The adult is then required to supervise the child while they play. Tell the child that they need to listen carefully and that it is not a speed test. If they can’t hear the sound they should continue to listen and the sound will get louder. Adults should also ensure the child does not tap the screen randomly. If the child is tapping randomly then instruct them to listen carefully.
Can colour blindness affect my child’s results?
Sound Scouts does require your child to tap on different coloured items. If you have concerns about your child’s sight we recommend they complete a colour blindness check before playing Sound Scouts.
Why do I need to include my child’s age?
The game results are age dependent. A child’s ability to interpret speech improves as they age so this must be taken into account in the final results.
Does the supervising adult need to have good hearing?
The adult is required to do a short exercise at the beginning of the game. If the adult’s hearing is significantly worse than the child’s the game will recommend that the adult re-does the exercise. It is recommended an adult with good hearing completes this element of the game. If the adult repeatedly gets a worse result compared to the child the adult may wish to get a hearing check.
Can my child play the game over a few days?
No the Sound Scouts hearing game MUST be completed in one sitting. Game play for the child normally takes 15 – 18mins.
Should my child play the game quickly?
Sound Scouts is not a speed-based game. Please advise your child that they do not need to play the game quickly. They need to listen carefully and only tap on the items when they can hear what Ranger Dan (the main character) is saying.
Why did my child receive an invalid result?
If a child is not paying attention or if they tap the screen too many times this may generate an invalid result. An invalid result does not use a game session. It is recommended that you retest your child after one week and ensure they are well rested, they’ve eaten and been to the bathroom. Be sure the game is played in a quiet place and that an adult supervises play.
Why did my child receive an inconclusive result?
A child may receive an inconclusive result if they are not paying attention or if they are playing the game in a noisy environment. An inconclusive result does not use a game session. If your child receives an inconclusive result it is recommended that you retest the child after one week and ensure they are well rested, they’ve eaten and been to the bathroom. Be sure the game is played in a quiet place and that an adult supervises play.
How do I interpret the graph?

The results are scaled so that on average, children (of any age) with no hearing problems get a score of 100, children with 1 Standard Deviation (SD) below average get 85 and children with 2 SD below average get 70, and so on.
With this in mind, we have determined that a score below 68 indicates a high likelyhood of there being a problem of some sort, and a score between 68 and 75 is inconclusive, giving a recommendation to redo the game a week later.

Since the problem could be hearing loss, or an auditory processing disorder, or even a language disorder, it is not meaningful to give an overall score in decibels.
What do I do if my child is interrupted during the game session?
If your child is interrupted during game play then it may be best to end the session, close the app and then retest your child in one week ensuring they are not interrupted again.
What should I do if I suspect my child has a hearing problem?
The first step is to see your doctor. Some conditions, such as ear infections, can be treated. If the hearing loss is permanent your doctor will refer your child to an audiologist or ear specialist for expert help and advice.

One in six Australians report that they cannot hear properly. If you think your child is having difficulty hearing clearly, you are not alone.

What are the signs of hearing loss?
Some early warning signs of hearing loss are:
  • you can hear but not understand
  • you find it harder to hear in noisy situations with groups of people
  • you have difficulty understanding people unless they are facing you
  • you think people mumble
  • you don't always hear the doorbell or the phone
  • you need to turn the TV up louder than other people.
How do we hear?
Your ears pick up sound which travels in invisible waves through the air. Sound occurs when a moving or vibrating object causes the air around it to move.

Sound waves travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum in the middle ear. This causes the eardrum to vibrate. Three tiny bones in your middle ear link the vibrating eardrum to the cochlea in the inner ear.

The cochlea is filled with liquid that carries the vibrations to thousands of tiny hair cells sitting on a membrane that stretches the length of the cochlea. The hair cells on the membrane fire off tiny electrical signals. These electrical signals travel up the cochlea nerves of the auditory pathway to the brain. All this happens in a fraction of a second.

The parts of your ear
Your ear is made up of a conductive pathway which includes the outer and middle ear and the neural nerve pathway that includes the inner ear and auditory nerve.

The outer ear
The outer ear consists of the:
  • external flap of skin (pinna) and cartilage
  • ear canal that leads down to the eardrum.
The pinna is the external flap of skin that helps you know the direction of sound. It serves to collect or funnel sounds into your ear canal yet it is not very important for good hearing.

The ear canal varies in size and shape from person to person. It runs nearly horizontally toward the centre of the head for about 2.5cm (in adults) and ends at the eardrum.

The skin along the outer part of the canal has tiny hairs and produces a waxy substance called cerumen. This earwax discourages foreign objects from entering the ear, and keeps the skin of the canal from drying out.

The middle ear
The middle ear consists of the:
  • eardrum
  • air-filled cavity that includes three middle ear bones
  • oval and round window membranes
  • eustachian tube.
The eardrum and middle ear bones
The cone-shaped eardrum is stretched across the ear canal and is quite stiff, yet flexible. Behind the eardrum three bones are connected to form the ossicular (pronounced oss-ick-you-lar) chain. They are the:
  • hammer (malleus)
  • anvil (incus)
  • stirrup (stapes).
The hammer is connected to the eardrum on one end and through the anvil to the stirrup at the other end. The stirrup is the smallest bone in the body, smaller than a grain of rice. It rests against the oval window membrane leading into the inner ear.

The stirrup moves in and out of the oval window membrane like a piston as the drum moves in response to sound.

The round window membrane is located just below the oval window and is flexible. When the stirrup moves in and out it pushes the fluid in the cochlea and the round window allows the fluid to be displaced.

The middle-ear cavity, filled with air, is connected to the back of the nose and throat by the eustachian tube. This tube adjusts the air pressure in the middle-ear space to match the air pressure on the outside of the eardrum and is normally closed. In a plane when you take off or land, it helps to yawn or swallow because these actions usually open the eustachian tube to adjust the air pressure in the middle ear space.

The inner ear
The inner ear is made up of the:
  • cochlea
  • semicircular canals.
The cochlea is a tiny spiral-shaped structure, about the size of a pea. It is nestled in the bone of the skull and filled with fluid. A thin membrane with around 15,000 microscopic hair cells sits in this fluid. Each cell is tuned to a particular sound or frequency.

The tiny hair cells connect to the cochlea nerve that sends messages to the brain.

The semicircular canals are mainly responsible for the sense of balance.
Are there different types of hearing loss?
There are three types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss can be acquired or congenital and is caused by blockage or damage in the outer and/or middle ear. A conductive hearing loss leads to a loss of loudness and can often be helped by medical or surgical treatment. Some of the causes of conductive hearing losses are:
  • blockages of the ear canal by impacted wax or foreign objects
  • outer ear infection (sometimes the result of swimming)
  • 'glue ear' (middle ear infection), a common problem in young children
  • perforated eardrum, maybe from a bad middle ear infection or an accident
  • otosclerosis, a hereditary condition where the bone grows around the tiny stirrup bones in the middle ear
  • partial or complete closure of the ear canal.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss can be acquired or congenital and is caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the cochlea (sensory part) or the hearing nerve (neural part).

Sensorineural hearing loss leads to a loss of loudness as well as a lack of clarity. The quantity and the quality of sound are affected and sometimes may limit the benefit of a hearing aid.

Causes of acquired sensorineural hearing loss include:
  • the ageing process
  • excessive noise exposure
  • diseases such as meningitis and Meniere's disease
  • viruses, such as mumps and measles
  • drugs which can damage the hearing system
  • head injuries.
In Australia, 20 children per 10,000 live births will be born with a congenital sensorineural hearing impairment. Causes include:
  • inherited hearing loss
  • premature birth, lack of oxygen at birth or other birth traumas
  • damage to the unborn baby from a virus such as rubella
  • jaundice.
Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss results when there is a problem in both the conductive pathway (in the outer or middle ear) and in the nerve pathway (the inner ear). An example of a mixed hearing loss is a conductive loss due to a middle-ear infection combined with a sensorineural loss due to damage associated with ageing.
Why should I protect my hearing?
Once you damage your hearing it won't come back.

With hearing loss:
  • you can miss half of everything someone says, and what you can pick up requires a high level of concentration
  • you tend to become stressed, frustrated, unsure and withdrawn
  • you cannot pick up the soft sounds that many take for granted - a bird call, the swish of clothing, the softest breathing
  • the risk of accidents and danger is increased when signals are missed - a siren, a car approaching, a knock on the door.
How do you protect I hearing?
Avoid loud noise. Like sun exposure and skin damage, the amount of hearing damage is related to the intensity of the noise and the length of time you are exposed to it.

  • Do not deliberately subject yourself to very high sound levels such as noisy machinery or loud rock concerts.
  • For musicians, who are particularly at risk, special plugs are available.
  • Wearing personal stereos, instead of ear muffs, increases the noise dose because listeners turn them up to blank out background noise and therefore increase the risk of damage.
  • Be aware that your risk increases if you are occupationally exposed to solvents or toxins or if you are taking certain drugs.
  • If you cannot avoid loud sound, then you should protect your ears with earplugs or ear muffs. Balls of cottonwool or paper tissue offer little protection.
  • You should give your ears frequent rest from noise.
When you attend discos, motor races or fireworks displays we recommend that you wear earplugs. Learn to fit them correctly, because poorly fitted earplugs offer little protection.