Plural Author Blake Wilson Awarded Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize

Blake WilsonOn January 7, 2015 the National Academy of Engineering announced that the 2015 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize would be awarded to Blake S. Wilson, Grame M. Clark, Erwin Hochmair, Ingebord J. Hochmair-Desoyer, and Michael M. Merzench “for engineering cochlear implants that enable the deaf to hear.” The $500,000 biennial award recognizes a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition.1

“This year’s Russ Prize recipients personify how engineering transforms the health and happiness of people across the globe,” said NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. “The creators of the cochlear implant have improved remarkably the lives of people everywhere who are hearing impaired.”1

Dr. Blake S. Wilson is the Co-Director (with Debara L. Tucci, MD) of the Duke Hearing Center and is an adjunct professor in each of two departments at Duke, Surgery and Electrical Engineering. He also is the chief strategy advisor for MED-EL Medical Electronics GmbH of Innsbruck, Austria, and a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in the Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. He has been involved in the development of the cochlear implant (CI) for the past three decades, and is the inventor of many of the signal processing strategies used with the present-day devices.

Dr. Wilson and the teams he has directed have been recognized with a high number of awards and honors, most notably the 1996 Discover Award for Technological Innovation; the American Otological Society’s President’s Citation in 1997 for Major contributions to the restoration of hearing in profoundly deaf persons (to the RTI team); the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke; the Neel Distinguished Research Lectureship at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery; and recently the Lasker-De-Bakey Clinical Medicine Research Award in 2013.

Better Hearing with Cochlear ImplantsDr. Wilson co-authored Plural Publishing book Better Hearing with Cochlear Implants which provides a comprehensive account of a decades-long research effort to improve cochlear implants (CIs). The research was conducted primarily at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in North Carolina, USA, and the results provided key pillars in the foundation for the present-day devices.


1. National Academy of Engineering. Inventors of Cochlear Implant Win 2015 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize [Press Release]. Retrieved from

A Tribute To Marion Downs

As many of you know, Dr. Marion Downs passed away recently. Here we post a nice tribute written by Dr. Jerry Northern that he shared with us.

Dr. Marion Downs Passes Away at Age 100 World-renowned Audiologist and Pioneer for Infant Hearing Screening

Dr. Marion Downs Passes Away at Age 100
World-renowned Audiologist and Pioneer for Infant Hearing Screening

Dr. Marion P. Downs, an innovator in the field of pediatric audiology and a tireless advocate for the early identification of hearing loss, passed away on November 13th, 2014. During her extraordinary career at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Dr. Downs developed and evaluated techniques for testing hearing in babies and young children and for fitting them with hearing aids. Dr. Downs created the first universal infant hearing-screening program in 1963 in Denver, CO. She relentlessly pursued making the identification and management of hearing loss in infants and children an important medical, educational, and public health issue. Her professional publications and lectures brought worldwide attention to the importance of early intervention for hearing loss. Today, in the United States, more than 96% of all infants born in the US receive a newborn hearing screening thanks largely to her efforts. Numerous international countries have followed her lead in establishing universal infant hearing screening programs. Continue reading

Augmentative and Alternative Communication: From Novice to Expert Clinician

By John McCarthy, PhD, CCC-SLP and Aimee Dietz, PhD, CCC-SLP

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication by John McCarthy and Aimee Dietz

Understanding the personal story of an individual who uses augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can have a positive impact on the attitudes of people without disabilities toward that individual (McCarthy, Donofrio-Horwitz, & Smucker, 2010). Almost any AAC specialist has story after story of moments when they have helped reveal the true abilities of an individual through AAC:

• The eight-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who everyone assumed had below average intellectual ability and presymbolic language skills, was in fact bilingual.
• The forty-year-old woman with bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis who cannot dress or feed herself, but still manages her finances, parents her children, and makes end-of-life decisions.
• The eighteen-year-old girl with autism spectrum disorder whose potential to contribute to society was doubted, yet planned for employment after high school and managed a new mobile device-based communication system.
• The fifty-two-year-old man with stroke-induced aphasia who medical staff assumed was “incompetent”; however, still made informed decisions about medical care and enjoyed friendly banter on the golf course with his adult sons.  Continue reading

Ten Advances in Cochlear Implant Technology and Services

By: Jace Wolfe, PhD

Over the past several years, there have been numerous advances in cochlear implant technology and services. As recent as a decade ago, there were little to no technological solutions available to assist a cochlear implant candidate/recipient, who presented with severe to profound hearing loss, with speech recognition in difficult listening situations—understanding speech in noisy and reverberant settings, over the telephone or television, and when spoken from a distance. Today, cochlear implant manufacturers offer a wide variety of solutions to meet the needs of patients with hearing aids or cochlear implant processors who struggle to communicate. This article identifies ten ways in which cochlear implant technology and services have evolved and improved in the past few years.

10. Automatic scene classification: Hearing aids have featured acoustic scene classifiers for almost a decade. Through these systems, hearing aids classify an environment as one that possesses background noise, speech in quiet or in noise, music, wind, and so forth. Once the listening situation is classified into one of these environments, the hearing aid selects the appropriate form of signal processing that will theoretically optimize performance in the given environment. This technology can be quite valuable as many users are unlikely to manually switch to programs designed for specific, challenging situations. Furthermore, this system will likely be well-received by cochlear implant users as it makes its way to implant sound processors.

9. The development of new speech recognition materials that provide a more realistic assessment of how hearing aid and implant users perform in real-life listening situations: Cochlear implant technology has improved so much that many users score near 100% correct on sentence recognition tests in a quiet environment with a single talker who is male and speaks at a slow to moderate rate. Additionally, many hearing aid users who struggle substantially in realistic situations also often score too well on these tests to meet the indications for cochlear implant candidacy. This fact makes it difficult to distinguish between excellent implant and hearing aid users and good users who may benefit from additional services.

Continue reading

Reflections on 10 years at Plural

An interview with Plural President, Angie Singh

Angie Singh

Angie Singh, Plural Publishing’s President

What is your favorite moment in Plural’s history?

“My favorite moment occurred before Plural was incorporated. Some of the things we had most valued and had come to miss most in the ten years after the sale of Singular [the Singh's previous publishing house] were the close relationships, daily interactions and sense of purpose and commitment that we had shared with our authors.

One day, I received a call from longtime friend and Singular author Dr. Robert Sataloff, who suggested that we should start a new company. The idea intrigued my beloved husband and me but it also presented us with many challenges and concerns that included financial investment and the extraordinary time commitments that would alter and affect our lifestyle, especially with our eight year old twins.

We managed to overcome the most serious of concerns and embarked on a journey that became Plural Publishing. We were immediately pleased to learn that many of our past authors were eager to join us in the new venture. Ten years after founding Plural, I couldn’t be more gratified.” Continue reading

Ground-Breaking Book on the Mind-Body Link in Singers

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers by Karen Leigh-Post

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers by Karen Leigh-Post

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers: Unleashing Optimal Performance provides a fundamental understanding of functional anatomy and cognitive neuroscience to guide singers and teachers of singing to unlocking the mystery of the mind-body link involved in the complex audio-motor behavior that is singing.

New theories and concepts, rooted in both the wisdom of masters in the field and current scientific research, are introduced from the unique perspective of the performer. Practical application exercises train the singer to work with, rather than against, the systems of singing to integrate the cognitive and conscious with the unconscious sensory and motor processes of our nervous system. Continue reading

Brand New Practical Resource for Voice Coaches

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an excellent resource for teachers of singing, voice coaches, and speech-language pathologists who work with singers and other voice professionals. It provides a new paradigm for working with singers in a way that allows for improved kinesthetic awareness needed to work with their body rather than against it. The text contains a series of lessons designed to train singing teachers, coaches, and voice therapists to recognize in their students the patterns of use and posture that interfere with respiration, phonation, and/or resonance. In addition, it provides tools for the teacher to guide the student to a level of self-awareness of habituated patterns along with strategies to implement change from the inside out. Continue reading

Invaluable Resources for Anyone Who Uses or Trains the Singing Voice

The Vocal Athlete

The Vocal Athlete by Wendy LeBorgne and Marci Rosenberg

The Vocal Athlete and the companion workbook The Vocal Athlete: Application and Technique for the Hybrid Singer are written and designed to bridge the gap between the art of contemporary commercial music (CCM) singing and the science behind voice production in this ever-growing popular vocal style. These books are a must have for the speech pathologist, singing voice specialist, and vocal pedagogue. Continue reading

New Release of Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology by Dr. Anthony DiLollo and Dr. Robert Neimeyer

For Immediate Release (San Diego, CA – June 6, 2014) – Counseling in the field of communication disorders is an essential dimension of professional practice, but just what it entails is often a bit of a mystery. Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology: Reconstructing Personal Narratives addresses this common concern of students and practitioners by illustrating how to integrate the concept of counseling into clinical practice. Replete with a variety of case studies, clinical guidelines, and actual transcripts of counseling interventions with clients and their families, as well as a practical “toolbox” of specific counseling methods, Dr. DiLollo and Dr. Neimeyer offer a comprehensive, novel, and empirically informed approach to counseling, applicable to a broad range of speech, language, swallowing, and hearing disorders. Continue reading

Alphabet Soup: The SLP, CP, and NDT

Fran Redstone, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, C/NDT
Editor of Effective SLP Interventions for Children with Cerebral Palsy: NDT/Traditional/Eclectic

Effective SLP Interventions for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Effective SLP Interventions for Children with Cerebral Palsy by Fran Redstone, PhD, CCC-SLP, C/NDT

Is it reasonable to expect a child with shallow breathing, open-mouth posture, and a tongue thrust, whose body is fixed in extension, to manipulate toys or interact with peers in a stimulating home or school environment? Of course the answer is “no.” It is an exercise in frustration for the child and in futility for the child’s unprepared speech-language pathologist (SLP). I know this because I’ve been there.

When I am asked why I, as a speech pathologist (SLP), should “handle” the child’s body, I am reminded of a second grade class observation I conducted recently of a child with spastic diplegia. This child was ambulatory and cognitively intact but was in a small class for children with language disorders. He was helped to function within the classroom with a one-to-one aide. The youngster began to demonstrate some negative behaviors stemming from the frustration of not being understood. This had resulted from a loss of stability, which led to poor trunk support, leading to poor oral control. I quietly asked the aide if I could intervene and adjusted the foot support and pelvic positioning. The child sat upright and communicated better immediately. Continue reading