sound prActice in action
Acoustic Neuroma – A tumor, usually benign, which develops on the hearing and balance nerves, that can cause gradual hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness.
Acquired Deafness – Loss of hearing that occurs or develops sometime in the course of a lifetime, but is not present at birth.
American Academy of Audiology (AAA)– Largest of the professional organizations for audiologists.
American Sign Language (ASL) – Manual (sign) language with its own syntax and grammar used primarily by people who are deaf.
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) – A professional organization for both speech–language pathologists and audiologists.
Amplifier – An electronic sound processor located inside of a hearing aid that increases the incoming signal to improve the audibility of the outgoing signal.
Aphasia – Loss of language abilities due to brain damage, usually on the left side of the brain where most people have their “language centers”. We often see aphasia as the result of an adult who has had a stroke and has trouble naming items, remembering words, categorizing, and conversing. Children can also have aphasia as a result of brain damage.
Apraxia – A speech disorder in which the child or adult has trouble coordinating voluntary movements. SLPs refer to this as a motor planning disorder, where the child may know what he wants to say, but has trouble making his mouth/tongue/lips/teeth move in the right order to produce clear speech. Also called apraxia of speech, developmental apraxia or childhood apraxia (there is also a limb apraxia).
Articulation disorder – Speech sounds produced from the use of “articulators” (lips, tongue, teeth), or a general term to describe speech. Children that have an articulation disorder may have sound substitutions, distortions or sound deletions.
Atresia – The absence or closure of the external auditory meatus (ear canal).
Assistive Listening Devices (ALD’s) – Non–hearing aid devices used by a hearing impaired individual to improve communication and the performance of activities in specific environments. ALDs include devices such as infrared and FM personal amplifiers, alerting devices, and closed captioning equipment.
Audiologist – A health care professional trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders, including balance (vestibular) disorders and tinnitus, and to rehabilitate people with hearing loss and related disorders. Audiologists use a variety of tests and procedures to assess hearing and balance function and to fit and dispense hearing aids and other assistive devices for hearing loss. Most audiologists have advanced doctorate degrees.
Au.D. – Doctor of Audiology. A clinical doctorate degree.
Audiogram – A chart onto which is graphed the results of a hearing test. The chart has intensity levels listed on one axis and frequencies (pitches) listed on the other axis.
Audiology – The science of the assessment and management of hearing and balance disorders.
Auditory-Verbal – An early intervention program for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their parents/caregivers. The goal of auditory-verbal therapy is to provide guidance to parents of children with hearing loss, in the application of techniques and strategies that will help children learn to develop spoken language and communication primarily through listening with the help of appropriately selected and fitted hearing technology. The professionals who provide auditory-verbal therapy, and the families follow all ten of the guiding principles of LSLS Auditory-Verbal Therapy. The goal of auditory-verbal practice is for children with hearing loss to listen, speak and to be mainstreamed into typical educational settings.
Auditory/Verbal Therapists – The development of speech and verbal language through the maximized use of auditory potential by trained and licenced auditory/verbal therapists.
Augmentative Devices – Tools that help individuals with limited or absent speech to communicate, such as communication boards, pictographs (symbols that look like the things they represent), or ideographs (symbols representing ideas).
Aural Rehabilitation – Techniques used with people who are hearing impaired to improve their ability to speak and communicate.
Autism – A disorder which is under the category of “Pervasive Developmental Disorders”. Children with autism typically have delayed language, tend to be “literal” or “concrete”, and have difficulty interacting with others and figuring out social situations. Specialists may say they suspect that a child is on the “spectrum”, which means the child may show one or more symptoms of a PDD disorder (Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD…).
Autoimmune Deafness – Individual’s immune system produces abnormal antibodies that react against the body’s healthy tissues.
Balance Disorder – Disruption in the labyrinth, the inner ear organ that controls the balance system, which allows individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment. The labyrinth works with other systems in the body, such as the visual and skeletal systems, to maintain posture.
Barotrauma – Injury to the middle ear caused by a rapid change of air or water pressure.
Brainstem Implant – Auditory prosthesis that bypasses the cochlea and auditory nerve. This type of implant helps people who can’t benefit from a cochlear implant because the auditory nerves are not working.
Behind–The–Ear Hearing Aid (a.k.a. BTE Hearing Aid) – A style of hearing aid in which the electronic portion of the hearing aid (including battery, microphone, speaker, amplifier, etc.) is located on top of or behind the ear. The electronic portion is connected via a piece of tubing to an earmold, which is in the ear.
Bilateral – A term used to signify that both ears or both sides of the head are involved (i.e., He has bilateral hearing loss.).
Bone Conduction Thresholds – The lowest level that an individual can hear a pure–tone stimulus presented through a vibrator placed on the mastoid bone or forehead. Bone–conduction threshold testing attempts to assess the ability of the sensory and neural auditory systems without the sound passing through the outer and middle ear.back to top
Cerebral Palsy – A condition that a child is usually born with, that is associated with brain damage, particularly with loss of oxygen to the brain. The child does not have typical muscle tone, many have difficulty with moving around and use a wheelchair or other aid. Usually speech is affected due to the changes in tone.
Cerumen (Ear Wax) – Yellow secretion from glands in the outer ear canal that keeps the skin of the ear canal dry and protected from infection.
Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist – A certified professional (speech-language pathologist, audiologist, or educator of the deaf) who adheres to the Auditory-Verbal philosophy.
Chemosensory Disorders – Diseases or problems associated with the sense of smell or the sense of taste.
Child with a Disability – A child who has a disability as defined in one of the 13 disability categories in IDEA and who needs special education and related services because of the disability; or a child aged 3 through 9 years who is experiencing developmental delay.
Child Find – Ongoing activities undertaken by states and local school districts to locate, identify and evaluate all children residing in a state who are suspected of having disabilities so that a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) can be made available to all eligible children.
Cholesteatoma – Accumulation of dead cells in the middle ear, caused by repeated middle ear infections.
Cochlea – Snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.
Cochlear Implant – Medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve, allowing some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret sounds and speech.
Cognition – Thinking skills that include perception, memory, awareness, reasoning, judgment, intellect, and imagination.
Completely–In–The–Canal Hearing Aid (a.k.a. CIC Hearing Aid) – A hearing aid that is designed so that most of the electronics are located in the ear canal. The smallest style of hearing aid currently available.
Conductive Hearing Loss – Hearing loss caused by an abnormal transmission of sound in the outer or middle ear. Most common in children.
Congenital Hearing Loss – The presence of hearing loss at or before birth.
Distinctive Features – Characteristics of a sound that make it unique and different from all the other speech sounds in our language. For example, the sound /b/ is made in the front of your mouth, with your “voice on” and your lips popping apart.
Distortion – Errors in speech in which the sounds are not produced clearly, they may be slurred or imprecise.
Doula – The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. (Definition of Doula)
Dysarthria – A speech disorder associated with muscle weakness, which could be from paralysis of certain muscle groups or paresis (weakness due to brain damage). A disorder associated with nervous system damage. In children it is most often seen with those that have cerebral palsy.
Dysfluency – The “smoothness” of speech, dysfluent speech may be referred to as stuttering (see below). This is measured by sound/word/phrase repetitions, sound elongations, interruption of airflow and other measures.
Dyslexia – A general term used to describe reading disorders/difficulties. There are specific types of dyslexias, however generally children have trouble with phonological awareness (see below) and sequencing to read, write and spell words. While very specific testing is done to determine the type of dyslexia, this may not be necessary for every child.. Speech-Language Pathologists who are trained in reading are able to evaluate children’s different areas of reading and develop a good treatment plan without an official diagnosis related to dyslexia.
Dysphagia – A swallowing disorder due to any difficulty in any of the stages of swallowing. Children and adults with swallowing difficulties often receive a swallow study or test from a hospital, and may undergo swallowing therapy to learn strategies for making swallowing safer. Some people with dysphagia are NPO, which means they should not take any food by mouth.
Ear Wax (Cerumen) – Yellow secretion from glands in the outer ear canal that keeps the skin of the ear canal dry and protected from infection.
Ear Canal – The external auditory meatus. The hole in the temporal bone that tunnels the sound from the pinna to the ear drum (tympanic membrane).
Eardrum – The tympanic membrane. A thin layer of skin that separates the ear canal from the middle ear cavity. The eardrum converts sound waves into vibrations.
Earhook – A portion of a Behind–The–Ear hearing aid that is designed to bend over the top of the ear and connect the aid’s casing to the tubing.
Earmold – A piece of molded material that fills up some portion of the concha bowl and/or ear canal which is connected via tubing to a behind–the–ear hearing aid for the purposes of holding the tubing in place, sealing the canal, and modifying the sound.
Echolalia – An imitation of words or phrases in a way that is usually not meaningful and can interfere with communication; often seen in children with autism. Echolalia can be immediate or delayed.
ENG (Electronystagmography) – A special series of tests utilized to evaluate the vestibular system during which eye movements are measured electro physically.
Equilibrium – A body’s ability to maintain physical balance by using vestibular, visual and proprioceptive (sense of touch) input.
Etiology – In hearing terms, the source or cause of a hearing loss.
Eustachian Tube – A small connection between the throat and the middle ear cavity which in the normal human ear system is utilized to equalize the pressure in the middle ear cavity to the pressure in the atmosphere surrounding the body.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction – When the tube that connects the throat and the middle ear cavity becomes inflamed or blocked. Eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to negative pressure, fluid in the middle ear, and/or middle ear infections.
Exostosis – A bony growth in the ear canal.
External ear – part of the auditory system comprised of the pinna and external auditory meatus.
Feedback Suppressor or Cancellor – Technology present in some newer hearing aids that is designed to limit the amount of feedback experienced by hearing aid users. Low–end hearing aids lower gain to reduce feedback, while more advanced hearing aids alter the phase of the signal to control feedback.
Fistula – An abnormal hole or rupture in the window that connects the middle ear cavity and the cochlea, allowing the leakage of inner ear fluid (perilymph) into the middle ear and often resulting in hearing loss and dizziness.
Flat Audiogram – A description of the graph of an individual’s hearing thresholds in which the degree of loss present is similar or equal for low, mid and high frequencies.
Footplate – portion of the stapes bone that is attached to the two crura and that sits in the oval window.
Frequency – Cycles per second. The number of vibrations occurring during a second, resulting in the perceived “pitch” of a sound.
Genetic Hearing Loss – Congenital hearing loss. Hearing loss that is present at or before birth.
Hard of Hearing – A term used to describe hearing–impaired individuals with mild to severe / profound hearing impairment who are not deaf.
Hearing – A sense, series of events in which sound waves in the air are converted to electrical signals, which are sent as nerve impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.
Hearing Aid – A battery–powered electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear. A hearing aid usually consists of a microphone, amplifier, and receiver. Learn more about hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Dispenser – A person licensed by the state to dispense hearing aids, but who does not have university training in audiology.
Hearing Disorder – A general term used to describe any disruption in the normal auditory process.
Hearing Loss – was originally defined in medical terms before the development of modern audiology. Today, professionals tend to use the consistent, research-based terminology of audiology. The following numerical values are based on the average of the hearing loss at three frequencies: 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz, in the better ear without amplification. The numerical values for the seven categories vary among professionals.
Home birth – For centuries giving birth at home was the norm. By the 1900’s increasing numbers of women started having their babies at hospitals. As our understanding of anatomy, modern medicine, the mechanics’ of childbirth, and technology have significantly increased, more and more women have been willing to consider the option of having a home birth. This option involves the participation of trained midwives or nurse-midwives in cases of low-risk, healthy pregnancies. As interest in home birth increases, the number of studies and amount of data will continue to grow to provide us with a greater understanding of the related risks and benefits. (American Pregnancy Association)
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) — A school district is required by law to conduct assessment for students who may be eligible for special education. If the parent disagrees with the results of a school district’s evaluation conducted on their child, they have the right to request an independent educational evaluation. The district must provide the parent with information about how to obtain an IEE. An independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district. Public expense means the school district pays for the full cost of the evaluation and that it is provided at no cost to the parent.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) — The original legislation for IDEA was passed into law in 1975 and guarantees students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and the right to be educated with their non-disabled peers. Congress regularly reauthorizes this law, the most recent revision occurred in 2004.
Individualized Education Program (IEP) — Special education term used by IDEA to define the written document that states goals, objectives and services for students receiving special education. An IEP for a deaf child should take into consideration such factors as:
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) — A process of providing early intervention services for children ages birth to 3 with special needs. Family-based needs are identified and a written plan is developed and reviewed periodically. According to IDEA an IFSP should address:
Individualized Transition Plan (ITP)— This plan starts at age 14 and addresses areas of post-school activities, post- secondary education, employment, community experiences and daily living skills.
Inflection — A change in the pitch of the speaking voice to add meaning or emphasis to a word or phrase.
Informal Testing — The audiologist presents a variety of sounds ranging from low pitch to high pitch, and from soft to loud, out of the child’s sight. The child’s response to each sound is noted.
Informed Consent — Procedure to ensure that the parent 1) has been fully informed of all information related to the proposed activity (in his or her native language or other mode of communication); 2) understands and agrees in writing to carrying out the activity for which his consent is sought; 3) understands that giving consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time; and 4) understands that revoking consent will not apply to an activity that has already occurred. Informed consent is required for an evaluation, a re-evaluation and for the initial delivery of the special education services.
Inner Ear — Part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and the organ of balance (the labyrinth).
Intensity — The loudness of a sound, measured in decibels (dB).
Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) — A setting other than the student’s current placement that enables the student to continue to receive educational services according to his or her IEP. The IAES must enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and progress toward meeting the goals set out in the IEP. Students in an IAES should also receive, as appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention services and modifications that are designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not happen again. The particular IAES is determined by the student’s IEP team.
Interpreter or Transliterator for the Deaf — A person who facilitates communication between hearing and deaf or hard-of-hearing persons through interpretation or transliteration. Interpretation translates language from one modality to another, such as between Spoken English and American Sign Language. Transliteration (usually by a cued Speech or Oral Transliterator) conveys spoken information into more clear and readily speechreadable form or voices over difficult to understand speech into more clear speech.. The EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETER specializes in classroom interpreting.
Itinerent Teacher — An itinerant teacher is someone who travels from school to school to provide extra support for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This includes helping with assignments, pre- and post-teaching, and serving as a liaison between general education teachers and parents.
Inner Ear – Part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and the organ of balance (the labyrinth).
Immittance Measurements – Another name for tympanometry.
Impedance – an object or medium’s resistance to energy flow. A high–impendance medium will reject energy; a low–impedance substance vibrates more freely.
Impression – A mold of the concha and ear canal made by a hearing healthcare professional to assist the hearing aid manufacturer in producing a custom fit hearing aid that sits in and seals the user’s ear appropriately.
Incus – The middle bone of the ossicular chain.
Induction Coil – The telecoil inside of a hearing aid that is activated by electro–magnetic energy coming from a telephone or assistive listening device.
Infrared – A signal used by some assistive listening devices to send sound via infrared light waves.
In–The–Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid – Smaller than an ITE hearing aid, it usually fills up a portion of the ear canal and a small portion of the outer ear. A mini–canal attempts to make the hearing aid even smaller by using a smaller battery.
In–The–Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid – A style of hearing aid in which all the parts of the hearing aid are fit into the concha or bowl area of the pinna and the ear canal. Variations of ITE hearing aids are:
Jargon – vocalizations of young children that consist of several strings of consonants and vowels and may sound like speech, even though they are not true words. Real words may be mixed in with a child’s jargon. This is a developmental stage.
This list is not an exhaustive list of terms in the field, but rather, is meant to provide reference for some of the words you may find in our blogs. Definitions in this section are from AG Bell, American Speech Language Hearing Association, the American Academy of Audiology and Children’s Speech Care Center
Language Sample – A collection of utterances (words, sentences) that can be in the form of a personal story, sequencing events, describing, explaining or others. SLPs often use language samples during assessments, they are an excellent way to get a good picture of a child’s functional language abilities.
Mean Length of Utterance – The average sentence length, usually taken from a language sample (see above). This is a little tricky because it is not just the number of words, but the number of morphemes (see below). Ex: A child that says “playing” is using a more complex form than one who says “play”. The “ing” has it’s own meaning (present tense- I am doing it now) and counts as an extra morpheme.
Masking Noise – A sound introduced into an ear system for the purpose of covering up an unwanted sound. Masking noises are used during hearing tests to cover–up unwanted responses from a non–test ear. Tinnitus maskers also utilize a masking noise to cover–up tinnitus.
Mastoid – Hard, boney structure behind the ear.
Mastoid Surgery – Surgical procedure to remove infection from the mastoid bone.
Ménière’s Disease – An inner ear disorder that can affect both hearing and balance and is usually associated with vertigo (feeling like you’re spinning when you’re really not), hearing loss, roaring tinnitus, and the sensation of fullness in the ear.
Meningitis – Inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that envelop the brain and the spinal cord; may cause hearing loss or deafness.
Middle Ear – Part of the ear that includes the eardrum and three tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear, ending at the oval window that leads to the inner ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss – A hearing loss that has both conductive and sensori–neural components.
Morpheme – Words or parts of words that have meaning. This includes regular words such as house, cat, tree, etc., and “bound morphemes” such as “s” (plural, possessive), “ing”, “est”, “er”, etc.
Motion Sickness – Dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and generalized discomfort experienced when an individual is in motion.
Noise–induced Hearing Loss – Hearing loss caused by exposure to very loud sounds, either very loud impulse sound(s) or repeated exposure to sounds over 90–decibel level over an extended period of time that damage the sensitive structures of the inner ear. Learn more about noise–induced hearing loss.
On–The–Ear (OTE) Or Open Ear Hearing Aid – A more recently developed style of a BTE hearing aid that utilizes a thinner tubing and a placement of the electronics lower down behind the ear for better cosmetic appeal with less occlusion.
Otitis Media – Inflammation of the middle ear caused by infection.
Otoacoustic Emissions – Low–intensity sounds produced by the inner ear that can be quickly measured with a sensitive microphone placed in the ear canal in individuals with normal hearing. Often used to screen the hearing of infants.
Otoacoustic Emissions Test – For this test, a miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear, sounds are played and a response is measured. If a baby hears normally, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone. When a baby has a hearing loss, no echo can be measured on the OAE test. (Boys Town National Research Hospital)
Otolaryngologist – Physician/surgeon who specializes in diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and head and neck.
Otologist – Physician/surgeon who specializes in diseases of the ear.
Otosclerosis – Abnormal growth of bone around the ossicles and the inner ear. This bone prevents structures within the ear from working properly and causes hearing loss. For some people with otosclerosis, the hearing loss may become severe, but often the hearing can be improved by surgery or hearing aids.
Ototoxic Drugs – Drugs that can damage the hearing and balance organs located in the inner ear.
Otoscope – A magnifying and lighting tool utilized by health care workers to look into the ear canal.
Outer Ear – External portion of the ear, consisting of the pinna, or auricle, and the ear canal.
Otolaryngologist – An Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician.
Parent or Parental Consent – Special education term used by IDEA that states the parent has been fully informed in his or her native language or other mode of communication of all the information about the action for which the parent is giving consent and that the parent understands and agrees in writing to that action.
Parent-Infant Program – A program of parent education and infant/toddler intervention which stresses early exposure to language and attention to developmental processes that enhance the learning of language. Some programs include early exposure to amplification and the use of hearing aids to stimulate the auditory channel.
Parosmia – Any disease or perversion of the sense of smell, especially the subjective perception of odors that do not exist.
Perception (Hearing) – Process of knowing or being aware of information through the ear.
Perilymph Fistula – Leakage of inner ear fluid to the middle ear that occurs without apparent cause or that is associated with head trauma, physical exertion, or barotrauma.
Perseveration – Repetition of the same word behavior or thought, especially when it is interfering with functionality. May be seen with PDD or aphasia.
Personal frequency modulation (FM) systems are like miniature radio stations operating on special frequencies. The personal FM system consists of a transmitter microphone used by the speaker (such as the teacher in the classroom, or the speaker at a lecture) and a receiver used by you, the listener. The receiver transmits the sound to your ears or, if you wear a hearing aid, directly to the hearing aid.
Personal FM systems are useful in a variety of situations, such as in a classroom lecture, in a restaurant, in a sales meeting, or in a nursing home or senior center.
FM systems are also used in theaters, places of worship, museums, public meeting places, corporate conference rooms, convention centers, and other large areas for gathering. In these situations, the microphone/transmitter is built into the overall sound system. You are provided with an FM receiver that can connect to your hearing aid or cochlear implant. The receiver can also connect to a headset if you don’t wear a hearing aid.(definition from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association)
Pervasive Developmental Disorders – Disorders characterized by delays in several areas of development that may include socialization and communication.
Phonological Disorder – A speech disorder in which the child’s speech has a pattern of errors. The child is using rules to put sounds together to develop words, however they are not the traditional rules of the language. Children with phonological disorders are usually very difficult to understand. Many of them have good success with speech therapy.
Phonological Awareness – The awareness of sounds in words both when listening and reading. Phonological awareness has been shown to be a very strong indicator in the success of a child learning to read. Reading programs for children with dyslexia or reading difficulties address this as one component of instructions. There are several components of phonological awareness which can be taught in the classroom, at home, and in speech/language therapy. Some of these components include rhyming, counting sounds/syllables in words, and initial sound awareness.
Postlingually Deafened – Individual who becomes deaf after having acquired language.
Pragmatics – Social language, the rules for how we use language in different contexts (ex: you speak differently to your boss than your best friend). Also related to social interactions. Many children with language delays or PDD have weaknesses in the area pragmatics.
Prelingually Deafened – Persons either born deaf or who lost his or her hearing early in childhood, before acquiring language.
Presbycusis – Loss of hearing that gradually occurs because of changes in the inner or middle ear in individuals as they grow older the type of hearing loss often associated with presbycusis is a sensorineural hearing loss. Learn more about aging and hearing loss.
Pure Tone Audiometry – Refers to the part of a complete hearing evaluation that includes the measuring of air–conduction and bone–conduction thresholds while using non–complex (pure) tones.