Audiology Australia is developing guidelines for hearing health care practitioners and providers to support the safe and effective delivery of hearing services through teleaudiology.

This work is guided by the Teleaudiology Guidelines Working Group comprising representatives from the Hearing Health Sector Alliance. Members include researchers and representatives of professional associations, consumer organisations and hearing services providers.

As the consumer representative on the Working Group, my role is to represent the consumer voice throughout the project, spanning the consultation and current testing phase.  With my lived experience, I understand many of the issues that matter to people using hearing services and what may be involved in the decision-making process.  My perspective has helped inform the development of draft guidelines and, importantly, consultation with consumers.   

The consultation about the first draft of the guidelines took place over several weeks, from June to August 2021. This process:

  • individual hearing health practitioners who shared their varied and practical experiences of
  • more than 100 hearing health practitioners, consumers and providers at 10 focus groups
  • written submissions from more than 30 organisations and individuals in Australia and
  • more than 1,150 downloads of the guidelines on

My priority during the consultation phase was to ensure a client-centered approach and that what mattered most to consumers was considered.

What have we learned from the first round of consultation?

During the consultation phase, I heard feedback that clearly resonated with me, from consumers (clients) and hearing health practitioners, such as:

  • Teleaudiology is an alternative way of service delivery which may or may not be the preferred option of some consumers.
  • Teleaudiology provides a client-centred approach which allows a consumer to involve family members, friends or carers in the appointment.
  • Some hearing health practitioners want resources as well as guidelines before they start using teleaudiology.   
  • Most consumers want a resource about teleaudiology to help them decide if teleaudiology is the right option.  To work out what would be useful to include in the resource, we are consulting consumer organisations during the current testing phase.
  • Many want to know what will be different in a teleaudiology appointment compared to what happens when they see their hearing health practitioner in-person.
  • We also heard teleaudiology may not be suitable for some clients or some services.
  • Access to reliable internet and phone services is an important factor in teleaudiology but consumers don’t need special, new or upgraded phones or devices to use teleaudiology. 
  • Practitioners are responsible for making teleaudiology work for their client.  To deliver some services, a trained assistant may need to help the client connect with their practitioner.

Consumer choice

As a consumer, I like having the choice of an appointment with my hearing health care practitioner in-person or by teleaudiology.  Depending on the service, I can also decide where to receive the service – at home or elsewhere. 

As I live in a different location to my hearing health practitioner and hearing specialist (ENT), having an appointment by teleaudiology can save me travel time and cost.   For people who live in remote parts of Australia, teleaudiology can provide convenient access to hearing care without having to wait for the next visiting clinic or travelling a long way to a clinic in another location. 

The Future

Teleaudiology has the potential to deliver high quality hearing services to those consumers who opt to use the service, no matter where they live.

If you or someone you care for has hearing needs, why not have your say? Find out how to get involved in testing the consumer resource and help prepare audiology for the future.

This opinion piece was first published on Audiology Australia LinkedIn page (Audiology Australia). It can also be shared direct from via the share functions on the page.

About the Author

Ian Rimes, Consumer and Teleaudiology Guidelines Working Group Member.

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