The validity and reliability of online hearing tests: Easier is not always better

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Melinda F. Bryan


The purpose of this experiment was to determine if online hearing tests accurately diagnose individuals with hearing loss. To this end, 20 listeners with normal hearing and 15 listeners with hearing loss received a full audiological evaluation including pure-tone and speech audiometry. Participants also completed two online hearing tests using supra-aural headphones, and the results of the online and audiometric testing were compared. The results revealed that the pure-tone online hearing test over-estimated hearing thresholds compared to performing a complete face-to-face diagnostic evaluation for both groups. Furthermore, speech audiometry testing seemed to be similar when comparing online to booth testing for both groups. This study demonstrated that online hearing tests are not precise predictors of hearing thresholds and should not be utilized to detect hearing loss or identify the severity or type of hearing loss. More importantly, pure tone results should not be used to purchase or fit hearing instruments.