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Probes and Tips - November 2009--Spotlight in Utah's Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative

The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Mangement

This newsletter provides TIPS to enhance your OAE screening and follow-up practices and PROBES about current activities so we can learn from one another's successes and challenges. Check out our website for more helpful resources:

 November, 2009 issue

Tip of the Month

Reach Out to the Larger Head Start Community: Spotlight on Utah's Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative

This newsletter highlights a successful statewide ECHO effort in Utah. The lessons learned about implementing an effective otoacoustic emissions (OAE) hearing screening and follow-up program are applicable to Head Start Grantees in every state.

First, we’d like to introduce Terry Foust, an audiologist who may look familiar to you from the “Getting a Hearing Head Start” training video! Terry is the Community Clinics Director for Intermountain Health Care and also serves as a consultant for the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM). Next, we’d like you to meet Mark Dewsnup, Health Specialist for Davis/Morgan/Summit Head Start.

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Since 2002, they have been spearheading the effort to update hearing screening practices in all 9 Head Start programs serving children 0 – 3 years of age in Utah.   Some of the main challenges that Utah Grantees have faced, with help from Mark and Terry, include:

  • Screener turnover and training.   In some cases, only one person within a Head Start program knew how to use the OAE equipment and when that individual left, the equipment was abandoned on the shelf.  In other cases, screeners within a program could not provide adequate training to new screeners.  The solution to these problems is threefold:  1) ensuring that several people within a given program are well versed in using the OAE equipment and the screening protocol; 2) making sure that the program has access to an audiologist or a skilled screener from another program to help with training; 3) reminding staff to use the available training video ( and guide (
  • Equipment selection and replacement.  When a piece of screening equipment has to be replaced, programs may be in the dark about where to go or what specific piece of equipment to buy.  Again, this is where obtaining input from a pediatric audiologist or another successful screening program is vital (additional equipment guidance is available in a previous newsletter  at  Although a good piece of equipment can be expected to last for several years or more, programs need to remember to budget for equipment calibration, repair and replacement costs. 
  • Access to and support from experts.  As illustrated in the two examples above, linkage with a local audiologist and/or staff from another successful screening program can make a big difference in keeping an OAE screening program running smoothly.   It is important that Head Start programs create and maintain linkage with outside experts who can step in and assist as needed  Just as important, audiologists and experienced screeners involved in an initial training  with a Head Start program need to maintain regular follow-up contact with grantees.   A follow-up visit should generally be scheduled 3-6 months after the initial training and phone or email contact should be maintained at least 2 times per year.  The experts should not wait for a phone call from a Head Start program, but should initiate communication regularly to discuss policy, procedure and protocol questions, refer rates, equipment concerns, tips for difficult to screen children, etc.


A round of applause for Terry, Mark and all the Head Start Grantees in Utah who are working hard to identify and serve children with hearing health needs!

If you would like to see your hearing screening program progress highlighted, please send us photos and a description of your successes.

Probe of the Month

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Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (E C H O) Head Start
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