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Hear here, Desired Sensation Level software team wins Governor General Innovation Award

on May 3, 2022

Led by Dr. Susan Scollie, a team of researchers at National Centre for Audiology at Western University are receiving a Governor General’s Innovation Award for developing the world’s first pediatric hearing aid prescription software.

For nearly 20 years, Desired Sensation Level (DSL) software has helped clinicians around the world provide infants and children with the gift of hearing.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The DSL software has helped clinicians provide infants and children with access to sound by assessing, treating, and properly fitting and tuning hearing aids to patient’s specific needs. This results in improved hearing outcomes – while boosting long-term educational and social potential for patients born with permanent childhood hearing loss.

The National Centre for Audiology (NCA) is a world-recognized leader in audiology and hearing research. The Child Amplification Lab at the NCA has had a longstanding and impactful research program focused on the treatment of Permanent Childhood Hearing Loss (PCHL) through early intervention.

Their ground-breaking innovations have developed accurate procedures for fitting hearing aids for infants and young children, with transfer to clinical practice, policy, and industry worldwide.

The DSL software and the NCA’s clinical procedures are utilized in 80 to 95% of pediatric clinics across North America, and are recommended best practices in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other countries worldwide. Award-winning Canadian software embeds data and procedures, based on many published studies from this team of scholars. The NCA contributions include >100 publications in leading and high impact scientific journals.

NCA’s innovations have led to trademarked and award-winning software products, and partnerships with the hearing industry on a global scale to implement the DSL prescription for children’s hearing aids. This outstanding record of achievement serves as an example of impact in health research.

WORLDiscoveries nominated Scollie and her team having supported the DSL software from the very beginning — working with the research team to license the technology to over 30 companies generating millions of dollars in licensing revenue.

These license agreements also ensure manufacturers maintain standards as outlined by the team and by research-backed studies. Manufacturers, in turn, send their hearing aids and software back to NCA for testing to check for accuracy.

Winners of a 2022 Governor General’s Medal for Innovation for audiology technology are (front, seated) National Centre for Audiology director and Western professor Susan Scollie, Leonard Cornelisse; and (back row, left to right) Steve Beaulac, Richard Seewald, Sheila Moodie, Shane Moodie and Marlene Bagatto. (submitted photo)

“We are delighted to have played a role in celebrating outstanding Canadian innovations by nominating Dr. Scollie and her team. The objective of this award is to celebrate excellence in innovation and inspire Canadians to be entrepreneurial innovators. The DSL innovation is a great example of an exceptional, transformative invention that has made significant positive impact on quality of life in Canada and across the globe,” said Souzan Armstrong Executive Director at WORLDiscoveries.

“The work of Dr. Scollie and her team at NCA is recognized internationally and has led to the introduction and the continued research and development of DSL which has contributed significant advancements to the field of paediatric audiology,” said Saqib Sachani, the Business Development Manager overseeing and supporting commercialization activities of the DSL portfolio.

When fitting hearing aids to children it is crucial to meet the challenge of situating the normal auditory area into the child’s area of residual hearing – the ability to hear some sounds even if a hearing loss exists. This requires a set of rules of amplification and compression, to ensure that sound, especially speech, is audible and comfortable for the hearing aid user.

Therefore, using DSL v5.0 allows the clinician to take advantage of this audiological knowledge in addition to making the fitting of hearing aids easier.

“The team’s contributions and impact are lasting, considerable, and international in scope which is gold standard in clinical practice and supported it to implementation on the ground,” Sachani said while explaining why he led nominating the research team for the award. “The current technology allows Western to be a leader in this field with cutting edge research and technology that impacts patients directly. This outstanding record of achievement serves as an exemplary example of impact in health research.”

The team is one of just six GGIA recipients across the country this year. The innovation award will be presented during a virtual ceremony by Governor General Mary Simon on May 19.

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