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Utah State University's Sound Beginnings Program Receives $200,000 Grant

Thursday, Apr. 05, 2012

Teacher with hearing impaired child

USU's Sound Beginnings, a program at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services serving children with hearing loss and their families, has received a $200,000 grant from the Daniels Fund.

Utah State University’s Sound Beginnings, a program at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services serving children with hearing loss and their families, has received a $200,000 grant from the Daniels Fund to measure the impact and cost-effectiveness of early tele-intervention.

Sound Beginnings established a tele-intervention program to deliver early intervention therapies using two-way video technologies to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing living in rural areas. Permanent hearing loss is the most common birth defect in the United States, and if not detected and treated early, children are not able to develop speech and language normally. Early intervention is a common therapy consisting of these children and their families receiving instruction on how to understand and manage the condition from a highly trained specialist either in the home or at a facility. However, deaf or hard-of-hearing children who live in rural areas typically have limited access to these intensive, high-quality, location-based services. With tele-intervention, both parties can see and hear each other in real-time and the therapy session can happen in essentially the same way it would if they were all in the same room.

“For families who live in rural areas, weekly visits from an interventionist or to a facility are not always feasible, and sometimes happen as little as 12 to 18 times a year,” said Karl White, director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, located at Utah State University. “To make these critical services more easily accessible, Sound Beginnings created an effective way to provide high-quality early intervention using videoconferencing technologies. Tele-intervention gives these families the ability to have consistent and meaningful interactions with the interventionist without having to contend with issues like sickness, time constraints or car troubles that might prevent an in-person session.”

Currently, three families use Sound Beginnings’ tele-intervention option, and the grant money enables that number to increase to 30 Utah families from rural areas. As part of the study, researchers will determine the extent to which tele-intervention can be a clinically effective and cost-effective approach for children.

“To date, tele-intervention has appeared to be a very viable option, but so far no one in the United States has conducted the research needed to validate its efficiency and cost effectiveness,” added White. “We plan to explore it more deeply to make sure its use is maximized across the board. The ramifications of this study have the potential to affect the way tele-intervention is viewed and utilized nationwide.”

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University is committed to offering high quality graduate and undergraduate programs in education and human services that are innovative and widely accessible. The college is also dedicated to establishing and maintaining nationally visible research centers that advance knowledge and professional practices. For more information, visit (   

Bill Daniels, a pioneer in cable television known for his kindness and generosity to those in need, established the Daniels Fund to provide grants and scholarships in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Daniels owned the ABA Utah Stars when the team won the national championships in 1971, and he was later inducted into the Utah Sports Legends Hall of Fame. For more information, please visit (

Contacts: Jacob Moon, Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Public Relations, 801.461.9797,

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