The Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ)

Int J Audiol. 2004 Feb;43(2):85-99. doi: 10.1080/14992020400050014.


The Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ) is designed to measure a range of hearing disabilities across several domains. Particular attention is given to hearing speech in a variety of competing contexts, and to the directional, distance and movement components of spatial hearing. In addition, the abilities both to segregate sounds and to attend to simultaneous speech streams are assessed, reflecting the reality of hearing in the everyday world. Qualities of hearing experience include ease of listening, and the naturalness, clarity and identifiability of different speakers, different musical pieces and instruments, and different everyday sounds. Application of the SSQ to 153 new clinic clients prior to hearing aid fitting showed that the greatest difficulty was experienced with simultaneous speech streams, ease of listening, listening in groups and in noise, and judging distance and movement. SSQ ratings were compared with an independent measure of handicap. After differences in hearing level were controlled for, it was found that identification, attention and effort problems, as well as spatial hearing problems, feature prominently in the disability handicap relationship,. along with certain features of speech hearing. The results implicate aspects of temporal and spatial dynamics of hearing disability in the experience of handicap. The SSQ shows promise as an instrument for evaluating interventions of various kinds, particularly (but not exclusively) those that implicate binaural function.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sound Localization / physiology
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Speech*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires* / standards