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Scientists have developed a quick and accurate hearing screening that can be taken over a telephone, and for the month of May, the test is free. To take the test, call 1-866-223-7575 and follow the directions. The process takes about 10 minutes.

The National Hearing Test, which regularly costs $8, was developed by researchers with Communication Disorders Technology, Inc.; Indiana University and VU Medical Center of Amsterdam with a government grant.

The goal is to provide tens of millions of hearing-impaired adults in the U.S. with a valid test that is convenient and affordable. If hearing loss is caught early, steps can be taken to keep it from worsening, experts say.

Using a telephone plugged into a wall-mounted jack (not a cell phone), callers listen to a series of three-digit numbers with noise in the background. When the caller enters the numbers correctly, the next set is presented at a more difficult level to hear. Those who fail are advised to seek a full evaluation with an audiologist.

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