Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Assessment and the Importance of Hearing


Young boy with headphones and red Big Mac switch on table in front of him.


Students who are blind or visually impaired rely heavily upon their hearing, and should have their hearing assessed on a regular basis. Many of the conditions that cause visual impairment may also lead to a hearing loss, and thus it is a good idea to be sure to check hearing regularly. This does not need to be a full evaluation, but should be at least a screening on an annual basis.



Assessment Tools for Listening Skills

The Listening Skills Inventory is part of Learning Through Listening developed by Learning Ally (formerly Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic). The Listening Skills Inventory can be used to assess a student’s higher level listening skills. This is a free download that contains a checklist of skills with no reference to age.

The Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) is an assessment tool for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. There are subsections that deal with listening comprehension at Kindergarten through 3rd Grade level. TPRI materials must be ordered from a licensed vendor (list provided at the website).

The SEDL Reading Assessment Database is a searchable database that describes in detail early reading assessments. “Language Comprehension” is one dimension by which you can search assessments. A “reading comprehension” assessment that is read to a student can be used to determine at what grade level the student can comprehend auditory text.

Speaking and Listening is part of the general education curriculum in English in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is organized into four areas of knowledge, and includes listening skills throughout:

  • Communicating Orally (Ability to Learn Oral Language) addresses the necessary skills and their prerequisites for the acquisition of oral language.
  • Purposes of Communication addresses the use of oral language within our social communications.
  • Conventions of Language addresses the rules governing the sounds, sentences and genres of oral language.
  • Ideas Communicated addresses the meanings of words, sentences, discourse and topics of language.

Each area also has suggested teaching strategies, as well as indicators of progress tied to each standard.

VI Technology Assessments
This list from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired includes a variety of assessments looking at technology that gives students access to text, such as screen readers, scanners, and note takers.

To learn more about auditory issues for children with visual impairments, see Are You Listening? by Kate Moss and Minimal Losses, Major Implications by Jenny Lace, TSBVI.

For general information about hearing loss, see also:
by Jill Grattan & MaryAnn Demchak
Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Newsletter, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 3-5 (Spring 2011)

Hearing Loss Fact Sheet
CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
This one-page fact sheet is available in English and Spanish.

Questions for Your Audiologist
by Jill Grattan
Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Newsletter, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 2011)

Questions You May Want to Ask Your Child's Audiologist
CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)