AAO-HNS Convention Goes to San Diego
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS/F) will hold its annual conference, the OTO Expo, at the San Diego Convention Center on September 22-25 to discuss the latest advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders involving the ears, nose, throat, and related head and neck structures. Additionally, more than 300 companies will present their latest medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and technology for the treatment of otolaryngological conditions at the OTO Expo.

Of particular interest are two 4-hour hands-on preconvention workshops on Saturday, September 21. “Audiometrics for the Practitioner: What the Otolaryngologist Needs to Know” provides information on the indications and interpretations of different types of audiologic testing and equipment, while the “Hearing Aids for the Otolaryngologist” workshop provides information on the various aspects of hearing aid selection and fitting, new digital technologies, and the business aspects of dispensing. The latter session is sold out.

The convention kicks off with its opening ceremonies on Sunday, September 22, and features the John Conley Lecture on Medical Ethics, given this year by the Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes. His lecture is titled, “Modern Medicine and the Good Life: Wholeness, Holiness, and Health.” The OTO Expo grand opening follows shortly after this lecture.

Numerous workshops, scientific sessions, seminars, and research presentations will be offered, and this year’s Neel Distinguished Research Lecture will be given by Nobel Laureat Eric R. Kandel, MD, on the subject of “Genes, Synapses, and Long Term Memory.”

For more information on the AAO-HNS Annual Convention, contact the Academy at (703) 836-4444, or visit its Web site at www.entlink.net.

ADA Fall Convention Sets Sights on Palm Springs

The Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) Fall Convention will be held at the Riviera Resort in Palm Springs, Calif, on October 9-12. Three “Day-Ahead” seminars are featured on Wednesday, October 9, with the convention’s opening reception taking place that evening in the exhibit hall.

ADA President Robert Manning will host the Academy’s opening ceremonies on Thursday morning. The convention’s keynote address will be given by Frank Bucaro, a business owner, author, and speaker, who will talk about ethical issues in business. A follow-up professional panel will focus on the same topic, while addressing more specific audiological issues. It will include a number of organizational leaders in the hearing care field. This year’s convention features 40 general forum sessions, with topics ranging from OAEs to reimbursement codes. A number of special seminars and workshops will also be held, and more than a dozen manufacturer’s forums will be offered.

For more information on the ADA Fall Convention, contact the organization at (800) 445-8629, or visit the ADA Web site at www.audiologist.org.

Letter to the Editor

Testing the Individual Patient
Editor’s note: The following is in response to a letter that appeared in HR [see June 2002, page 55] written by audiologist Harry Rossman, MS, who questioned the presumption that prescriptive targets and/or audiological measures can actually describe an individual’s hearing loss. A version of the letter also appeared in Audiology Today:

[Harry Rossman] offered the fact that he would "continue to be bothered" by the general consensus from the profession’s academia, which is absorbed as absolute a heavenly truth, that electro-acoustic analysis of a number of “acceptable” target prescriptive algorithms, developed by significant labs worldwide, were actually valid predictors of success with a hearing aid.

Not so, he allowed, the ear being akin to matching a receiver to a transmitter in a radio, for one example, wherein it would be tuned just below, then above, and finally landing on the “sweet spot” where the signal was clearest. This, of course, would require the shocking realization of academia that the human ear and hearing must be treated as a research project with a sample space of one, or unique in each situation and each individual, evaluated within the dynamic range and frequency response of their hearing in response to the signal which they want to hear the most: live or recorded human speech. Of course, this would preclude electroacoustic evaluation as an end in itself and view it as being far down-line from the true end-product of the production line of audio-prosthetic hearing correction. There were reasons I agreed.

One was that this is exactly the way I have been thinking since graduate study, in increasingly honed and modified test technique (which had the heretic nature of being original), in which, by use of master hearing aid, and a paired-comparison tournament technique, the exact point on the sound pressure continuum of loudness and pitch was measured for the average voice in each individual ear and the balance effect thereof in each individual’s binaural hearing, for the optimal response in both comfort and clarity of human speech.

I brought this very point up at an Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology conference in the mid-’90s, and in a submission for original research at the charter Biennial Hearing Aid Research and Development Conference [now known as IHCON], sponsored by the Veteran’s Administration, National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders, and National Institutes of Health. A method for accomplishing the above means was accepted for poster presentation. Peer review personnel for this conference were nationally recognized experts but with a more tolerant acceptance of innovation and creativity. (To me, this still remains the best conference on hearing aid research in America.)

The presentation was of a copyrighted audiotape of a formal procedure that we use to find the “sweet spot” of human hearing , which is then validated in various forms of computer or CD/taped version of real-life background noise, both the speech signal and the noise being measured for the varying signal-to-noise ratios and distances. This requires a master hearing aid and, if more creativity is to be allowed, a custom built, full-room size test-suite [like the one we’ve built] with various noise sources geared to replicate real life, emanating either from the walls, ceiling or test-equipment, as necessary.

By concentrating on evaluating the psychoacoustics versus the electroacoustics—though neither ours or any other system has received the “Perfection Award” yet— we have achieved a quite credible and low return-rate and, according to customer surveys, an acceptable customer satisfaction rating.

As clear a speech reproducibility as possible: that’s our goal so our patients can hear what they’ve been missing!

—Joseph C. Luckett, AuD, Daytona Beach, Fla