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The University of Southampton

Research project: Fit for duty

Currently Active: 

Ensuring that military personnel have adequate hearing based on operationally relevant listening tasks.

For military personnel, the ability to listen to and understand commands in noisy environments is an important skill and can be critical for mission success. Due to the nature of their work, one of the greatest threats to the deployability of military personnel is noise induced hearing loss. Accurately measuring auditory fitness for duty (AFFD) is important for ensuring that personnel have sufficient hearing ability to be effective in operational scenarios.

Researcher Hannah Semeraro gets to grips with the radio equipment inside a 'Warrior' armoured vehicle
Learning about radio communication

Pure-tone audiometry (PTA) is the test used to monitor hearing in occupations where employees are at risk of hearing loss caused by noise damage and/or are carrying out hearing critical tasks as part of their job. PTA is also used to assess AFFD within the UK military. It is not known whether PTA is able to accurately predict AFFD and there is reason to think that a test of tone-detection in quiet is a poor predictor of overall hearing ability in challenging listening environments.

In an attempt to understand the hearing requirements of personnel, Hannah and Zoe have attended a number of military exercises
On exercise with the infantry


The key motivation behind the Hear for Duty research project is ensuring that occupational hearing standards used within the Armed Forces accurately predict whether personnel have adequate hearing in order to carry out operational duties safely and effectively. Several projects been completed or are underway to work towards achieving this:

1. Exploration of the auditory tasks carried out by infantry and combat-support personnel. Status: completed.

2. Identification of mission-critical auditory tasks carried out by infantry and combat-support personnel. Status: completed.

3. Development and validation of the British English Coordinate Response Measure speech-in-noise test. Status: completed.

4. Development and validation of the Coordinate Response Measure as a new measure auditory fitness for duty. Status: on-going.

5. Understanding the localisation abilities of normal hearing and hearing impaired personnel when listening to small arms fire. Status: on-going.

6. Understanding the importance of stealth awareness during operational task and the impact of hearing impairment on this. Status: on-going.


The Hear for Duty team welcome project ideas in the areas of:

- Tinnitus (military relevant)

- Hearing protection

- Auditory fitness for duty (for both the Armed Forces and other occupations)

- Occupational hearing standards

- Hearing conservation programmes

Related research groups

Signal Processing, Audio and Hearing Group



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