Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours)

School

School of Computer and Security Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Trish Williams

Abstract

Hearing loss in Australian children, primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, is a growing concern for the Australian public health sector. In certain rural communities up to 90 per cent of children have been found to experience some form of hearing loss. Although hearing loss can be the result of a number of different causes, including congenital influences, the most common cause of hearing loss in Australian children is attributed to a common middle ear infection, otitis media.

To address the issue, numerous solutions have been proposed, tested and implemented, although the problem persists due to geographic, environmental and cultural limitations. However, the availability of new technology, including smart phones and extended mobile telecommunications networks, has provided new opportunities to overcome these limitations.

This research project comprised of the development of an application for Apple iOS devices and initial testing of this for accuracy and proof of concept. The application is designed to emulate a professional gold standard hearing test, which is traditionally conducted in a calibrated and controlled environment. While similar applications currently exist, many utilise nonstandard testing methods and there is no data or published documentation to support claims for their accuracy.

This thesis discusses the pilot study conducted to determine whether this specially developed mobile application can be utilised for self-administered hearing tests for children; to reduce the strain on current telehealth services; and complement similar solutions to achieve a holistic approach for diagnosing hearing loss and ear infection.

The results of the study outline a number of unforeseen circumstances encountered, which resulted in minimal obtained quantitative data. However, findings during the testing, that impacted on the testing procedures of the application, were derived from surveys, interview and observations and provide evidence to support the claim that a mobile application, used for mobile phone and tablet devices, can be used to supplement audiology testing of children and would be accepted by both parents and audiologists.

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