March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


3/14/2016  |   4:10 PM - 5:15 PM   |  Golden Pacific Ballroom

The Amazing Odyssey from Early Hearing Screening to EHDI Systems of Care

When I reviewed the key events of the past 60 to 70 years, a well-known phrase came to mind. “You’ve come a long way baby.' EHDI would not have evolved as it has without the involvement of many key players including parents who were able to think beyond the status quo and believe in what could be done. It began with the recognition that deaf children who were identified late and did not have access to language during critical periods of brain development were destined to a lifetime of academic, social and professional disadvantage. In 1988 the Commission on the Deaf reported that the average age of identifying profoundly deaf children in the US was 2 ½ years and deaf adolescents graduating from high school in the US were reading at the 3rd grade level. In the 1960’s, Marion Downs and Jerry Northern were the first to show that hearing screening of newborns could be done with “noise makers.” The next step was how to get the word out and establish policy. In 1969, Marion Downs was a founder of the JCIH and word began to spread nationally. The biggest barrier was there was no physiologic method to screen newborns. In 1989, the RIHAP was funded for the first clinical trial to test the feasibility of universal newborn hearing screening with a new device called oto-acoustic emissions developed by Dr. David Kemp.. As a result of that clinical trial the trajectory of progress began to escalate. Rhode Island was the first state to achieve universal newborn hearing screening in 1991. By 2001 52 states were screening. We had entered the era of 1-3-6 and state EHDI programs. The role of innovations, more sophisticated amplification, the Medical home, telemedicine, statewide reporting, and EMR in the EHDI system will be discussed.

  • Describe significant historical landmarks and key innovations contributing to improved outcomes
  • Identify current challenges : Supporting families in the Medical home
  • Predict future EHDI Possibilities; Continuing to fine tune systems of care

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Betty Vohr (POC,Primary Presenter), Women & Infants Hospital, bvohr@wihri.org;
Betty R. Vohr, MD has been the director of Women & Infants Hospital’s Neonatal Follow-up Clinic since 1974 and medical director of the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program since 1990. She has been the national coordinator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network follow-up studies since 1990. Dr. Vohr’s primary clinical and research interests focus on improving the long-term outcomes of high-risk premature infants and infants with hearing loss. Dr. Vohr is currently participating in studies investigating the outcomes of premature infants and the outcomes of infants with hearing loss. She has published 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, as well as numerous textbook chapters and has been an invited speaker throughout the country and the world. Dr. Vohr played an instrumental role in the development of the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program (RIHAP), which was established in 1990. Based at Women & Infants, RIHAP became the first public health program in the United States to achieve universal newborn hearing screening for all infants born in Rhode Island. After the project gained momentum, Dr. Vohr and her colleagues were invited to present the findings at an NIH Consensus Development Conference, which subsequently recommended that all babies in the United States be screened for hearing loss. She is a recipient of the Antonia Brancia Maxon award for EHDI Excellence, has served as a member of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, and recently received the Stan and Mavis Graven’s Leadership Award for Outstanding Contributions to Enhancing the Physical and Developmental Environment for High-Risk Infants and their Families.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.