flashBACK Friday: Creepy Audiology Booths

Posted by: Staff Writer on Aug. 30, 2013

Of all the bonds that tie deaf or hard of hearing people together, audiology booths probably get the most laughs. It’s a rite of passage that begins early, and continues well into your graying years.

Nothing like being trapped in a dark, ventilation-controlled booth with a microphone in your hand, a headset on your ears, and the cold comfort of a stuffed animal in a corner.

Monkeys, ducks, creepy baby dolls … you name it, they’ve lived in audiology booths. “Keep looking at the bunny rabbit,” the audiologist tells you before shutting the door. Maybe the bunny rabbit reduces claustrophobia?

Let’s not even get started on the Wizard Behind The Curtain: The audiologist hidden behind a dark screen, feeding you macabre beeps and boops, and series of words or sentences such as “HOT-DOG” and “BASEBALL”. You hallucinate, wondering if the stuffed animal is talking to you. You raise your arm or push a button ad nauseum, which produces an audiogram with squiggly lines.

It doesn’t end at childhood. In some states, in order to get fitted for a new hearing aid your hearing test must be as recent as six months. Off to the audiology booth we go again!

Today, audiology booths have ballooned into an industry (thanks to our growing Baby Boomer population). New specs include 50mm thick interlocking panels, cam-lock systems, and bio-acoustic research. Not only that, but you can find single-wall exam booths, multi-configurable audiometric test booths, double-wall exam booths, and even "multi-station examination suites."

These audiology booths are here to stay. Hopefully, someday they will look like rocket launchers, pirate ships or something much more Zen, like a Japanese Tea Garden. deafREVIEW wants to hear about your experiences: What was the creepiest thing about your audiology booth? 

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