Join us: Advanced Communication Workshop!

iStock_000013906070SmallJoin us on Thursday, May 15th at 6:30pm for our Advanced Communication Workshop, which covers a wide range of informative and helpful topics to assist those managing hearing and speech challenges.

The workshop is put together in partnership with the University of Washington’s Audiology Department, bringing the latest in research and education to the rooms of ESHC. Students from the UW will pair with our doctors to introduce you to the newest techniques for improved communication!

Topics covered are:
*Advanced Technology: Made-for-iPhone and wireless Hearing Aids
*The Anatomy of Hearing
*Understanding your Audiogram
*Lip Reading vs. Speech Reading
*Communication Strategies & Tips
*Session Q&A with students and Audiologists

To join, please RSVP to our Redmond office at 425-882-4347 or at We look forward to learning together!

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Made-for-iPhone hearing aids better than normal hearing?

New York Times tech writer Farhad Manjoo explores the future of bionic hearing in his recent piece about Made-for-iPhone hearing aids, finding that even those with ‘normal’ hearing will be awestruck by the capabilities of these highly advanced listening devices. Read more NPAD2684-00-EE-ST - XF STAY_CONNECTED - Light - NEW_RETAIL_R8below.

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3-Year-Old Children’s Attention Span developed by ‘I Spy’ Game

“I spy, with my little eye, something blue.”

Parents often play the ‘I spy’ game with children to avert boredom on long car rides or trips to the grocery store. A form of the game, where children quickly spot objects, is shown to enhance their ability to learn and navigate cluttered environments, new research shows.

The study, published in Developmental Science, found 3-year-old children are able to identify objects at a faster pace when prompted by words rather than only prompted by images.

Spoken language taps into children’s cognitive system, thus enhancing their ability to learn and pay attention. Research into the way language affects the course of development is particularly important for young children who experience difficulties with school and other attention-related tasks.

In the experiment, children played a series of “I spy” games. Each child was instructed to look for one image in a crowded scene on a computer monitor. The children were shown an object they needed to find – a bed for example, among a group of couches.

The researchers found that children were much faster at finding the target object and were less distracted by the other objects in the scene if the name of object was also said.

3-year-old children’s memories are activated by spoken language. That language then rapidly deploys attention, thus allowing children to identify the relevant object in a cluttered array. Researchers believe spoken language conjures up an idea that is more robust than an image.

The difference in children’s search times, with and without naming the target object, indicate a key role of a kind of brief visual memory known as working memory. Limitations in working memory have been linked to difficulties in reading, language and other negative outcomes in school.

The findings slightly contradict the previous notion that children have difficulty with language because they don’t have enough working memory to learn language. However, these results suggest that language may also make working memory more effective.

“Children learn in the real world, and the real world is a cluttered place. If you don’t know where to look, chances are you don’t learn anything,” the lead researcher explains.

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Full Newsletter Article: ESHC turns 35!

1-bluegrayIn 1979, the Sony Walkman was released, the Supersonics won the NBA championship, and Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic opened its doors for the first time. “I can’t believe it’s been 35 years since I started Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic…” says founder Dr. Thomas Norwood, AU.D.

Evergreen Speech and Hearing now spans three clinic locations, employs about 26 people, and is the premier provider of hearing and speech services in the Pacific Northwest.

“Technologically, things have changed drastically over this period of time,” says Dr. Norwood. Where hearing instruments are concerned, old analog hearing aids from days gone by have been replaced with state of the art digital instruments that far surpass the devices of 35 years ago, and Evergreen has been on the cutting edge of the newest hearing technologies every step of the way.

At Evergreen, we’ve practiced a legacy of transforming lives by resolving hearing, speech and balance issues for thousands of patients throughout the years.  Ours is a patient first motto, with a focus on individualized relationships and ongoing patient care.

“I joined the clinic about twelve years ago, and since that time I’ve seen so many changes happen in the speech department,” says Maryam Sadrzadeh, Speech Pathology Program Director.  “I’m very proud to be part of a clinic that values customized patient care, education, collaboration and evidence based practice. We are constantly changing…and looking for better ways to improve our results and to provide better service.”

Dr. Terry Limb, a co-owner and veteran Audiologist with Evergreen Speech and Hearing, agrees with these sentiments.  “In the thirty years I’ve been with Evergreen, the changes have been really remarkable.  When I first started, personal computers really didn’t exist at all. Now, everything we do is technology based…the diagnostic procedures that we utilize, even the hearing aids that people wear are on computers.”

Since its inception, Evergreen has kept a finger on the pulse of the most innovative diagnostic technologies and techniques that impact all aspects of hearing and speech services—from our Connect Program and state of the art Music Listening Lab, to personalized speech therapy and accent modification programs. Evergreen has also nurtured the successful careers of many new audiologists and speech therapists via internships and student programs throughout the years.

“One of the exciting things for me is seeing the patients who started with us 35 years ago, loyal patients, sending their friends and families over the years, seeing infants we identify now as successful attorneys and physicians…that’s a very rewarding thing, as well,” says Dr. Norwood.

Clinic Director, Ruth Norwood, BSN., is especially proud of Evergreen’s history of service to the community. From the Kids’ Parade in Redmond to serving up meals at Tent City, “We see our patients and know we’re making a difference in our community. It’s really been a highlight for me and something I’m really proud to be a part of at Evergreen Speech and Hearing.”

For a third of a century, we’ve been here for our patients and referring physicians. The professionals at Evergreen Speech and Hearing are excited to continue providing our community with the highest quality of care and most up-to-the-minute technologies possible.  Thanks for allowing us to serve you for so long!

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Breaking the Stigma of Stuttering

Katherine Preston is the author of Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice, a memoir that chronicles the journey she went on to come to terms with her voice. She is also a public speaker, talking about the necessity of vulnerability and diversity in the workplace.

I spent years of my childhood believing in a singular fallacy: fluency = success. In my early adulthood the equation expanded to include stuttering = failure (along with unemployment, loneliness and other equally cheery thoughts).

As a kid growing up with a stutter in the early ’80s there weren’t many people around to debunk those beliefs. Porky Pig was hardly a leader of men and the odd stutterers that I came across in films were either violent criminals, nervous psychopaths or suicidal inpatients. The future didn’t look too rosy.

So I hid my stutter, as best I could. I tried everything to get rid of it. I battled against all the ways I believed it trapped me. And finally I set off to face it, to immerse myself in it. To write a book about it.

I interviewed hundreds of stutterers who taught me that what we did, and what we said, was far more important than the extra seconds it took us to get those words out. The myths that I had long built up around my speech were debunked one by one. After a year of research, I decided that it was time to start changing the conversation.

As I prepared to publish my book, I noticed that I wasn’t alone, a ground swell seemed to be rising up alongside me. Men like Jack Welch and Joe Biden and Byron Pitts were standing up and speaking about their stutters. About the struggle and the survival, about the way their speech shaped their success. Hollywood, once the perpetuator of tired stuttering misconceptions, was changing too. Films like The King’s Speech and Rocket Science were giving viewers thoughtful, nuanced insight into lives lived through a different sort of voice.

Public opinion was evolving, growing more understanding, more empathetic.

And yet, despite all the growing social and professional acceptance, I saw that stutterers still remained misunderstood. Again and again in my research I met men and women who felt their stutters created a glass ceiling on their professional lives and I heard stories of overqualified candidates failing through endless job interviews. Recently, a study from England reported that employers may be reluctant to hire people who stutter because they are concerned about negative reactions from customers or other workers.

The truth is, the perception of stuttering may be shifting but certain tired and false assumptions are lingering on.

So, it is time to debunk five big myths that still cling to the condition:

Myth 1: Stutterers are not good communicators Our words may take a little longer than most, but that does not negate their impact or their worth. Rather, our stutters can prove to be an unexpected advantage. In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant introduces us to Dave Walton, a phenomenally successful trial lawyer. In his chapter on the power of powerless communication, Adam explains that, “When Dave stammered and tripped over a couple of arguments, something strange happened. The jurors liked him.” When I was writing Out With It, I discovered this same phenomenon — again and again I saw how people were drawn to stutterers, how likeable they seemed to be. At first I balked at the discovery, worrying that the attraction was perhaps born of pity. However, the more people I spoke to, the more I realized the opposite was true — people were drawn to the stutterer’s courage and lack of artifice. In a world full of noise and nonsense, the effort that stutterers put into speaking made them somehow trustworthy and genuine. That is not to say that it is easy, or without its pitfalls (the phone is far from my preferred means of communication), but the inherent vulnerability of stuttering creates conversations that quickly move beyond the superficial and tap into something more profound.

Myth 2: Stuttering is born of laziness Over my life, strangers have most often responded to my speech with three phrases, “slow down,” “calm down,” or “take a deep breath.” I think it is their way of helping, but it implies that stuttering is easily controlled, that it is caused by nothing more than my own petty foolishness. I have often wondered if the same people might ask a blind person to “focus in” or recommend that a deaf person “listen a little harder.” I would hope not. But, stuttering is not always seen as a “valid” condition, whatever that may mean. All too often it is still judged as a personal weakness, a character flaw rather than a physical condition.

Myth 3: Stutterers are not good leaders Jack Welch was the youngest CEO General Electric ever had. He grew the company from a respectable $14 billion to the world’s most valuable company, at an unimaginable $410 billion. Born to a working class family in 1935, by the 1990s Fortune 500 had named him the CEO of the century. Surprisingly, perhaps, he stuttered through each of those legendary years. He used his speech to improve, to bolster his own resilience, to inspire others not to falter in the face of failure. His story neatly disproves the theory that stuttering is a liability for leadership, or any sort of an indicator of mental weakness. Rather, stutterers can have more grit than the average employee, they have an inbuilt fighting insight that can drive them to succeed, to prove something to the world. They invite a rare sort of honesty and patience in those around them.

Myth 4: Stutterers are perpetually anxious In most adults, the delivery of their speech betrays who they are or what they are feeling. It follows that stuttering looks like something people have seen before, something they recognize in their own stumbled speech. So the connection between stuttering and anxiety is naturally made. And yet stuttering is not caused by anxiety. As enigmatic as the causes of stuttering remain, research shows that it is tied up with the plastic chemistry of our brains and the complexities of our genetic code. So it is useful to retrain our reactions, to see stuttering as a distracting mask, to see the person and listen to their words. We need to train ourselves to suspend the assumption that our speech is always indicative of our mind’s inner landscape.

Myth 5: It is easier to hire someone “normal” As Seth Godin writes in We Are All Weird, “Those brave enough to seek the weird will thrive.” It is easy to hire for the same qualities over and over. To hire the people who are safe (who come as close to normal as humanly possible), the ones that will tow the company line, who will do what is required, who won’t make any waves. However, the most successful companies are the ones who evolve and change. Rather than striving for homogeneity, they are the ones who hire for difference. The ones who choose to reach out and connect with a myriad of diverse groups. In this environment, diversity is more than just a buzzword, it is the driver of innovation. They are the companies that hire and promote the outliers of the world, the ones with all the passion. “I like doing stories about the human condition, about struggle,” explains Byron Pitts, a stutterer who is also an ABC News anchor and chief national correspondent. “I know what it means to struggle, what it means to be voiceless, for someone to say you don’t matter. I like doing stories about the underdogs. I believe it’s my job as a journalist to give a voice to the voiceless.”

Not all stutterers are as passionate at Byron Pitts, or as driven as Jack Welch. We are not some unified whole. Like everyone, we can be our own worst critics and our worst enemies. The truth is that we are as varied as the rest of humanity. And it is this scale that we should be judged on: our personality, our intellect, our compassion and our capability rather than the voice we happened to be born into.

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Digital hearing aids pair with apps

628x471New hearing aids made for Apple products – that can be personalized and are discreet – could make wearing the devices more appealing.

New on the market this spring are high-tech hearing aids that are compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. They arose from collaborations with Apple, the Cupertino personal computing giant that has shown interest in medical devices.

Audiologists and manufacturers, such as Starkey Hearing Technologies and GN ReSound, hope the devices will appeal to Baby Boomers whose hearing isn’t what it used to be. The technology comes at a perfect time, said Thomas Gunderson, a senior health care analyst for Piper Jaffray and Co.

“Everybody’s walking around with more computer power than they need in their smartphones,” Gunderson said. “We’ve got a market where 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day. We finally have cracked the battery problem. I think it all comes together, and it makes sense that Apple is a leader here.”

More than 36 million adults in the United States have some hearing loss, but only 1 out of 5 people who need a hearing aid have one, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Industry analysts attribute the gap to hearing aids’ decades-old reputation of being large, obvious and bad at filtering out background noise.

That perception has improved in recent years, starting with the first digital hearing aids that became commercially available in the mid-1990s. The devices have increasingly become smaller and more sophisticated.

On Monday, Starkey will release its hearing aid, Halo, which connects to an app available in the App Store. Conversations, music, movies, phone calls and other audio are streamed to the small earpiece, and users can control the volume to precise degrees. In a recent test of the device, conversations unfolding in the next room went from undetectable to slightly audible.

Starkey’s app also uses GPS to “remember” the volume settings for up to 20 locations – everything from a crowded cafe to a peaceful library – and automatically adjusts the noise level when the user is in a car.

‘Convenience aspect’

The app can also turn an Apple device into a microphone, and includes a feature that helps forgetful users track down misplaced hearing aids.

“We think the convenience aspect of this brings the same hearing function to people with hearing loss as their normal-hearing counterparts,” said David Fabry, vice president of audiology and professional relations of Starkey in Minnesota.

Getting your hearing back isn’t cheap. The average price of a digital hearing aid is about $1,500, according to the National Institutes of Health. In contrast, a single Halo ranges in price from $1,900 to $2,800, and most people wear two aids at a time.

Meanwhile, a single hearing aid from Denmark competitor GN ReSound, released earlier this year, costs around $3,000. That device, the LiNX, also syncs with an app and has many features similar to the Halo’s. Starkey says the Halo has a longer-lasting battery and can remember more geo-tagged locations.

Dr. Kenneth Smith, an audiologist at the Hearing Center of Castro Valley, hasn’t tried the Halo but said he believes the LiNX has the most advanced technology in the industry.

“One of our questions was, ‘Was the hearing aid a stand-alone without looking at the Apple part of it?’ The answer was an unqualified yes,” said Smith, who also does consulting for ReSound and tested the company’s product on his patients.

Working with Apple

Both ReSound and Starkey developed their hearing aids in partnership with Apple, a move that fits with the company’s slow entry into medical devices. Apple is exploring ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes as it flows through arteries, as The Chronicle reported last month. Other news outlets have said Apple is working on an app that will allow people to closely track health, fitness and activity information.

It wouldn’t be surprising if hearing aids and apps for Android phones came out within a year, Gunderson said. The demand will still be there.

“The Boomers lived through a huge renaissance of rock-and-roll, and it was all part of their young 20 and 30s, but it also might have accelerated their hearing impairment,” he said. “At the same time, they still love their music and they want to hear it.”

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Watch ‘Operation Change’ on the Oprah Network

We’re so excited to learn that hearing pioneer, Starkey Hearing Technology, will be regularly featured in a documentary on the Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN, beginning this summer! Operation Change Starts will run as a ten part series, beginning on June 23rd, 2014 at 9 p.m. (CDT).

Starkey Hearing Technology has a long history of amazing philanthropic work with the hearing disabled around the globe. During Operation Change, Starkey’s owner, Bill Austin, his foundation’s co-founder, Tani Austin, along with Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Steven Sawalich, team up with local organizations to create sustainable projects that seriously impact each community.  Operation Change will focus on some of the world’s most challenging issues and spotlight those organizations that are trying to help bring about change. The series will feature other noteworthy philanthropists, as well, including former President Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Elton John and more.

We encourage you to show your dedication to better hearing across the world by taking part in the Operation Change movement. Watch the program and share it with your friends and family. For more information on Operation Change and to view a series trailer, go to, and find them on Facebook and Twitter. Follow, Like and Share!

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