January, 2019        

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Tip of the Month
Plan Ahead for Screening Equipment Purchase    
Turning the calendar page to a new year can be a good reminder to plan ahead for future equipment purchases. Whether you are using Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) or Pure Tone screening equipment, at some point you will need to buy another unit as a replacement, or to serve an increasing number of children, so take just a moment to think about your upcoming needs. Advance planning may include writing equipment into your budget and/or making requests to local organizations for supplemental funding. (The ECHO mini-grant template can be a helpful tool.) Planning also involves checking out what equipment is currently on the market and determining which b rand will best meet your needs.    OAE Equipment 
Equipment investment is significant - not only in ter ms of dollars, but also in terms of how performance affects overall hearing screening program success.  Not all OAE equipment works equally well for screening infants and toddlers, and not all equipment on the market has been adequately field- tested with young children in v aried environments. Simply choosing the least expensive br and is not the best way to make a purchasing decision. Ease of use and reliability are more important than price difference over the long term. That said, don't let a vendor talk you into purchasing a unit that has expensive features that are designed for audiologists or includes "bells and whistles" that may look appealing on the surface, but don't really contribute to quick, reliable screening. What most programs need is a basic screening unit that can be used successfully by lay screeners in a natural environment.  
Choosing the best OAE equipment to meet your needs can take a little time, which is why it is important to "shop" well before you need to buy. You are likely to make the best selection if you:
  • Arrange with vendors/distributors to obtain several different brands of OAE equipment on loan for a week or so. Being able to "test drive" the equipment in your own setting is much more useful than having a vendor simply demonstrate equipment features. Hands-on experience with equipment, in the settings where you will use it, is a critical part of the selection process. 
  • Compare how the equipment functions bPractice screening adultsy testing it on yourself (or another adult) walking through the exercises in Video Tutorial Module 7. Take note of how well each brand works when you systematically introduce some internal and external noise.
  • Compare ease of use by testing it on a number of young children of different ages. Notice the probe shape and also the disposable tip options.  Pay particular attention to how easy or difficult it is to get a good probe fit, and whether the probe stays seated  firmly in each child's ear canal, even with some movement. Pay attention to the speed with which the test runs when conditions are optimal (quiet child and environment) and when conditions are less than optimal (child is wiggling, or a moderate amount of ambient noise is present in the environment).  Well-designed OAE screening equipment should  allow you to screen in a range of environments.
As we enter 2019, the ECHO Initiative Team is sending best wishes your way and we hope these tips help you to be an informed consumer!!   
Probe of the Month
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Probes and Tips is a newsletter from the ECHO Initiative that provides monthly TIPS

to enhance early childhood hearing screening and follow-up practices and PROBES

 about current activities so we can learn from one another's successes and challenges.