University

Speech and hearing screenings, related costs no longer mandatory for students

Students fulfilling the oral English competency requirement no longer have to automatically incur a $12.50 cost for mandatory hearing and speech screenings.

Last fall, new policies took effect to make these screenings optional. Communication Disorders Chairperson Bradford Swartz said that legally, the tests could not be required for students.

Communication and Dramatic Arts Chairman Bill Dailey said although the change took effect last fall, many students may not be aware of it.

“(The screenings) most certainly were not free, but the students were just assessed a fee when they signed up for a competency class,” he said. “Most probably didn’t even know this.”

Use of these screenings began decades ago, but Central Michigan University was one of a small handful of schools that still made them mandatory for students, Swartz said.

Only some of the oral English competency courses — COM 101, 267 and 357 and TAI 170 and 302 — as well as ELI 199 and HON 110 classes, had previously required students to take the screenings.

All six courses offered to fulfill the oral English competency — COM 101, 267, 269, 357 and TAI 170 and 302 — now offer speech and hearing screenings as an option for students for a $10 fee to cover the cost of the service.

When these screenings were required, the additional fee was automatically charged at registration. The extra $2.50 was added as a class cost and went to the respective department.

Screenings take place in the Speech and Hearing Clinic in the Carls Center for Clinical Care and Education. Students who opt to take them often come over in groups with their class, Swartz said.

Approximately 520 students took advantage of the screenings this fall semester, Swartz said.

“(The purpose of) speech screening is to listen and detect notable communication issues: how students articulate, their voice, stuttering, among other speech disorders,” he said. “Hearing screenings look for tones in both ears — fixed decibel levels.”

Swartz emphasized the nature of the tests, and said they are only the first step in potentially diagnosing speech or hearing disorders.

“These are screenings, not tests. They do not test for speech disorders; it screens for them. Students either pass or they don’t,” he said.

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