The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative promotes wellness of the athletes with intellectual disabilities and education for medical professionals. Healthy Athletes has created a hearing screening program, Healthy Hearing, to help athletes with intellectual disabilities get the otological and audiological care they need. This program promotes a healthy hearing lifestyle and educates medical professionals regarding the need of health care for the intellectually disabled population. The physiologic, otologic, and audiologic abnormalities often occurring in the intellectually disabled population bring special attention for the need to determine the prevalence rate of hearing loss among the athletes participating in Special Olympics events. Investigation of the prevalence of hearing loss in 1450 athletes participating in the 2004 Summer Games and Fall Sports Classic and 2005 Fall Sports Classic in Utah, USA and the 2005 World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan was made. A total pure-tone failure rate of 31.1% among athletes in all four games was found, however follow-up was recommended for 34.7% of athletes. Athletes were found to have a greater prevalence of cerumen management problems than the general population and 34% of those passing the pure-tone hearing screen needed cerumen removal. Due to inherent audiological and otological complications found in individuals with intellectual disabilities, regular cerumen management and sensory testing for athletes are recommended.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





hearing loss, intellectual disability, Special Olympics, hearing screening