Listen up.

Salt Lakers can now have their hearing tested at home simply by calling "Dial-a-Hearing Screening Program" - the first of its type in Utah.Sponsored by the Salt Lake Hearing and Speech Center at St. Mark's Hospital, the free recorded hearing test can confirm if you're hard of hearing.

"If people have concerns about their hearing, they can call to find out if their concerns are real or imaginative - and if there is something they should do about it," said Dr. Dean Platis, a Salt Lake audiologist and center director. "The test is really convenient for those busy people who don't have time to go to a medical facility to have their hearing tested."

Here's how the telephone test works.

Using a good quality telephone, located in a quiet environment, simply call 268-EARS.

You'll be instructed to hold the phone firmly against one ear, and listen for four faint tones. The same procedure will be followed for the other ear.

If the caller doesn't hear a total of eight tones, he has failed the test.

This, Platis said, could mean that the caller possibly has a hearing loss and needs a follow-up examination by an audiologist, ear, nose and throat doctor, or general practitioner.

If the caller has acute or chronic dizziness, sudden hearing loss, ringing or other head noises, drainage from the hear, pain or discomfort, he's encouraged to contact a medical ear specialist promptly.

"Dial-a-Hearing," initially introduced in Pennsylvania, was brought to Salt Lake City as a public service by the Salt Lake Hearing and Speech Center in April.

"The hearing test hasn't been available before because we had no way of calibrating it to make sure it's a valid test," Platis said. Thanks to the expertise of electrical engineers, the test has been calibrated and is being used extensively.

"We've had 300 to 400 calls since April 1 when the test went into effect," the audiologist said.

He's hopeful more Salt Lakers will take advantage of the convenient test.

"There are about 16 million people in the United States who have a hearing loss and could benefit from the use of a hearing aid or need to be evaluated," Platis said. "More than 100,000 Utahns have a hearing loss or some disorder in communications that may be associated with hearing loss."

But many don't know it.

Platis said that hearing losses develop so gradually that often people don't realize there is a problem until they can't hear speech.

"Quite often they have trouble in group conversations when there is a noisy background or when someone is a soft speaker," he said. "To the hard of hearing person, people always seem to be mumbling."

But once detected, many hearing problems can be corrected.

Platis emphasized that the telephone screening is not a diagnostic test. It is not valid 30 miles outside of Salt Lake City, and it is not recommended for children.

For more information on the test or hearing problems, call the center at 261-5613.