The Informal Functional Hearing Evaluation (IFHE) is an informal evaluation designed to guide a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (TDHH), Teacher of the Deafblind (TDB), Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), Speech Pathologist, or Educational Audiologist in determining the impact of a potential hearing loss on educational functioning for students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. Developed by Adam Graves and Chris Montgomery from the Deafblind Outreach Program at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), it is available for free through the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB).
It is important to note that the IFHE is NOT designed to be the sole source of evaluation and is not a substitute for formal hearing testing.
According to Adam Graves, “the IFHE is specifically designed to account for the difficulties that students with deafblindness and multiple disabilities have in localizing and identifying sound sources due to their loss of vision. More emphasis is placed on encouraging the teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing to observe and document the child’s specific bodily behavioral responses to sounds. The IFHE places an increased emphasis on observing behaviors other than visual attention to help confirm that a student has heard, recognized, or understood a specific sound, even for students with some vision.” Read more.
The results of a formal hearing test do not necessarily correspond to an individual’s ability to understand what sounds mean or to localize them, and this is especially true for students who are deafblind. When sounds have no meaning, one becomes habituated to them rather than learning to attend to them or localize them. For students who do not attach meaning to sounds, auditory training may be helpful.
The chart below shows familiar sounds that can be heard at particular frequencies (pitch) and decibels. Sounds include rustling leaves and birds chirping all the way up to a motorcyle and siren. Note the banana shape where the speech sounds are found.
There are three components to the process of completing the IFHE: