UGA Student Studies Integration Of ASL And Audiology

Approximately 36 million Americans experience some sort of hearing loss. Hearing and hearing healthcare practice support aren’t typically among the most popularly explored topics in the medical world. Yet, it affects a substantial amount of people.

Audiologists aim to bridge this gap in research and treatment. At the forefront of this effort, a hearing health care consultation company might make some strides, but the field remains comparatively understaffed. This is where research pioneers like Elizabeth Medlock come in.

Elizabeth’s grandfather was hard of hearing and, as she reports, she had no idea what audiology was until a few years ago. Learning more about the on-site consultations her grandfather would go through to better understand his level of hearing loss and facilitate the appropriate treatments, hearing aids, etc. fascinated her.

At college, she began as a Finance major, but her interests started to shift. She realized she liked working with people and was also talented in mathematics and science, so an idea started to formulate.

“Audiology combines the things I’m good at with the things I like. There’s a lot of physics that goes into audiology, and you’re also getting to help people at such a personal level,” Matlock said.

From there, she changed her major to linguistics and focused on American Sign Language. She studies early detection hearing loss and its correlation with language scores in elementary-aged children. With her academic drive and interest in the subjects, she’s postured for a Doctoral program in which she seeks to collaboratively integrate the field of audiology with American Sign Language.

“Less than 10 percent of audiologists use ASL. Instead of having an interpreter or communication barrier, I want to figure out how to integrate the two,” she said.

What that research and integration will look like is still unclear, but someone as ambitious as Matlock is ensuring that an underserved community is getting some much-needed fresh research and perspective. Inspired by her family, she also has a great deal of support.

“My mom keeps joking that I should get a van shaped like an ear,” Matlock said.

Ear van or not, her determination is inspiring. If you need audiology support, remote consultations, on-site consultations, or a place that values the importance of hearing health care, the specialists at One Source Hearing are here to serve you. Get in touch with us today.

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